In the first nine months of 2015, fewer babies were born than in the same period last year. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that the birth rate is decreasing again after a brief increase in 2014.
Increase in 2014 short-lived
Figures for the period January-September seem to indicate that the number of births is likely to decline further this year. If the number of births in the fourth quarter of 2015 is the same as in the fourth quarter of 2014, approximately 170 thousand babies will be born this year, i.e. 5 thousand fewer than in 2014 when the number of births increased for the first time since the onset of the recession. This increase appears to be short-lived. It is in fact possible that the number of births will remain below 170 thousand this year, the post-war record low of 1983.
The fertility rate (defined as the average number of children per woman) is estimated to fall from 1.71 in 2014 to 1.66 in 2015.
No decline among over-35 women
Births rates over the first nine months of 2015 indicate that - compared to the same period last year - fewer women in the age category 25-29 have given birth, but the same applies to women in the age categories 20-24 and 30-34. The birth rate among women aged 35 and older remained almost the same and the rate in the age category 35-39 in fact rose marginally. Over the first nine months of 2015, the average age for women to get children is 31.2 years, versus 31.1 years in 2014.
Many women in their twenties postpone motherhood
Over a longer period, too, postponing motherhood is a commonly found phenomenon. Relative to a decade ago, many young women in their twenties tend to postpone motherhood until later in life. The birth rate per thousand 20-year-old women, for example, fell from 20 to 12. Women in their late thirties and early forties also tend postpone motherhood a bit further. Postponing motherhood is most obvious among women with a non-western ethnic background, in particular among women with a Turkish and Moroccan background. One reason is that first-generation women give birth for the first time later in life and another reason is that the number of second-generation women is now proportionally higher. Second-generation women are significantly older when they give birth for the first time than first-generation women.