More mothers in their fifties with children at home

The number of older mothers (i.e. aged over 50 years) who still have children living at home will rise sharply in the coming years. At the moment there are 300 thousand couples in the Netherlands whose children still live at home and where the mother is in her fifties. This number will increase to nearly 600 thousand by 2020.

Couples with children at home by mother’s age

Couples with children at home by mother’s age

More older mothers in 2020

In 2003 2.1 million couples in the Netherlands still had children living at home. Although this number will not change much in the next twenty years, the age composition of this group will: the number of couples where the mother is 50 or older will double by 2020.

The number of 40-49 year-old mothers with children at home will decrease from 800 thousand in 2003 to 700 thousand in 2020. And the 800 thousand mothers who are now aged 30-39 years will fall to 600 thousand by 2020. The number of couples with a mother younger than 30 with children at home is around 150 thousand today, and will remain around that level in the coming years.

Postponing motherhood

The strong increase in the number of mothers in their fifties with children still at home is caused by the postponement of childbirth. In 1975 women in the Netherlands were 25 on average when they had their first baby, in 2002 they were 29.

The consequence of this delay is that in the future many more women will still have children at home at older ages. Women are not expected to delay family formation further in the future.

Couples without children at home by woman’s age

Couples without children at home by woman’s age

2.2 million childless couples in 2020

The number of couples without children at home will increase from 2 million in 2003 to 2.2 million in 2020. In two out of three of these couples the woman is over 50: these are mostly ‘empty nesters’ whose children have left home.

In many childless couples, the woman is under thirty years of age. Most of these women will have children at a later stage.

There are only few childless couples where the woman is between 30 and 40: 350 thousand in 2003; this will fall to 250 thousand in 2020.

Andries de Jong