Education delays motherhood
WOMEN are having children later in life because they are spending longer in education, new research claims.
Academics from the University of Southampton looked at women in Britain and France and found that finishing full-time education, and training at an older average age, is the main reason why people are having their first child later in life.
Professor Maire Ni Bhrolchain, who conducted the study with Dr Eva Beaujouan, said: “A large number of explanations have been suggested for the trend towards later parenthood, but our study is the first to show that the major influencing factor is that people have been staying on longer in education and training.”
The average age of a woman having her first child in 2004 was 27, three years later than in 1974, when the average age was 24, the researchers said.
During these three decades, young men and woman were progressively staying longer at school and also going into further and higher education in greater numbers – with women completing their education or training at an increasingly later age.
The Southampton study focused on the period between the early 1980s and the late 1990s.
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