Postponement of parenthood: a medical of social problem?
The Netherlands is one of the leaders in ‘late parenthood’ in Europe, together with Italy and Spain. For a quarter of the Dutch women aged 40 or older who gave birth in 2005, this was their first child.
The corresponding figure in 1970 was less than 10%, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS, 2006). At present, 45% of all Dutch mothers are at least 30 years old when they give birth for the first time, and nearly 13% are actually 35 years old or more. The corresponding percentages in the Seventies were no more than 12% and 2% respectively. Social as well as medical reasons for this postponement of parenthood can be identified, and its effects can lead to societal problems e.g. if older mothers are faced with increased medical risks, or if shortages are experienced on the labour market due to a drop in population growth.