Men contribute to postponement of motherhood

02/09/2002 10:00

The recent trend of delayed motherhood is not only down to the women themselves, but also to their husbands. Couples in which both partners are modern minded are more likely to put off starting a family. In addition the level of education of both partners also plays a role.

Some men not ready for children

Many Dutch women only have their first baby when they are over thirty. They usually give two reasons for this: doubts about whether they really want children and the absence of a partner. In addition the difficulty of combining children and a job, and finishing education are also often mentioned. But 15 percent of women reported that their partner did not want children, or at least not yet.

Women with higher educated husbands prone to delay

Women with a higher education are more likely to have their first baby at a later age on average. However, women with a higher education who have a partner with a lower education than themselves have children at a younger age than women with higher educated husbands. Couples who both have higher levels of education delay longest before starting a family.

Share of couples delaying first child by educational level

Youngest mothers in lower educated couples

On the other hand, lower educated women with a low educated partner are the youngest mothers on average. Only one in five of these couples have their first child at a later than average age. The partner’s education therefore does have an effect on the timing of motherhood.

Men’s opinions also relevant

The influence of men on the postponement of motherhood is also apparent if we consider their opinions. The likelihood of postponing the first child is larger if men

  • Do not think having children is a matter of course;
  • Think having children means giving up a lot of freedom;
  • Reject the traditional roles of men and women (man is the breadwinner; woman looks after home and children).

Couples in which not only the woman, but the man too thinks along these lines are most likely to delay starting a family.

Share of couples that have delayed first child by some opinions

Jan Latten (CBS) and Erna Hooghiemstra (Netherlands Family Council)