The role of education on postponement of maternity in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden

Siv Gustafsson, Eiko Kenjoh and Cécile Wetzels

in The gender dimension of social change

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9781861343321
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303824 | DOI:
The role of education on postponement of maternity in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden

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In most European countries, the age of mother at first birth has reached and all time high. In most of these countries, the number of women who never give birth and the childless rate has reached the highest level since the Second World War. It is argued that economic reasons underpin the postponement of maternity and biological reasons call for a halt to this trend. This chapter examines the implications of education on the postponement of maternity. It uses the level of education completed and the time of leaving full-time education as determinants in explaining the timing of the first birth. This chapter uses data collated from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. These countries are chosen as they provide interesting cases of different policy approaches to supporting families with children. The focus of this chapter on the construction of comparable variables across countries and on the construction of two duration variables: the waiting time of a woman from age fifteen until she has her first child; and the waiting time of a woman since finishing education until she has her first child. Of the four countries, Sweden and Germany have the smallest effects of education on the timing of maternity as these countries provide a strong support on maternal employment. In contrast, UK and the Netherlands have the strongest effects of education and the greatest rate of childlessness as both countries placed the responsibility of childcare to families specifically on mothers.

Keywords: European countries; mother; first birth; education; postponement of maternity; Britain; Germany; the Netherlands; Sweden

Chapter.  11367 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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