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How Late Can First Births Be Postponed? Some Illustrative Population-level Calculations


  • Joshua R. Goldstein


I shift, stretch, and transform the observed cohort age-schedule of first birth for Danish women born in 1963 to see how late the mean age at first birth could plausibly shift. Constraints of two kinds are placed on the ultimate distribution of first births. First, no more than one-third of first births can occur after age 35. This constraint allows postponement without radical changes in childlessness or parity distribution. Second, I preserve some variability in the age at first birth by keeping the standard deviation of first birth above 4 years, the minimum value observed for Denmark during the baby boom years. Under these constraints, I find that mean ages at first birth of at least 33 years are plausible. This would represent a further increase of about 4 years in the mean age at first birth seen in recent periods. I conclude that the depressed levels of fertility seen due to postponement could continue for decades before limits are reached.

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  • Joshua R. Goldstein, 2006. "How Late Can First Births Be Postponed? Some Illustrative Population-level Calculations," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 4(1), pages 153-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:153-165

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    2. Jane Menken, 1985. "Age and fertility: How late can you wait?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(4), pages 469-483, November.
    3. Kenneth Land, 2001. "A sensitivity analysis of the bongaarts-feeney method for adjusting bias in observed period total fertility rates," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 17-28, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marion Burkimsher, 2015. "Europe-wide fertility trends since the 1990s: Turning the corner from declining first birth rates," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(21), pages 621-656, March.

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