Change in the perceived reproductive age window and delayed fertility in Europe

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While extensive literature documents the massive fertility delay of recent decades, knowledge about whether and how attitudes towards the timing of births have changed in Europe remains limited. Using data from two rounds of the European Social Survey, we investigate these changes and their association with macro-level fertility indicators in 21 countries. Between 2006–07 and 2018–19, societal consensus regarding the existence of optimal childbearing ages remained strong and became more in favour of later parenthood. Decomposition analyses show that these shifts were driven only partially by changes in population composition, supporting the idea that a general attitudinal change in favour of later childbearing is underway. We also find a trend towards gender convergence in upper age limits driven by the increasing social recognition of an age deadline for men’s childbearing. Although shifts in perceived reproductive age windows occurred during periods of birth postponement, they corresponded only loosely to country-level changes in fertility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPopulation Studies: a journal of demography
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 504006 Demography


  • fertility postponement
  • social age norms
  • maternal age
  • paternal age
  • Europe

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