Better Later than Never? The Increase in Very Late Childbearing in Europe, Japan and the United States

Tomas Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography

Although the shift to later childbearing in advanced societies has been studied extensively, fertility trends at late reproductive ages remain largely unexplored. Our study provides a comprehensive exploration of very late childbearing (in our definition, ages 40+) in Europe, Japan and the United States. By the early 2000s, the trend reversal in fertility rates among women aged 40+ took place in almost all advanced societies. Although the absolute frequency of very late childbearing remains relatively low in comparison with the historical levels, the analysis of detailed age-parity data reveals that there was a ‘genuine’ increase in the intensity of childbearing at ages 40+. This reversal is attributable especially to the behavioural change among nulliparous women and women at parity 1.

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Presented in Session 32: Fertility Timing: Sociodemographic Consequences