Original Paper

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 421-435

First online:

Younger Age at First Childbirth Predicts Mothers’ Lower Economic and Psychological Well-Being Later in Life

  • Bettina J. CasadAffiliated withPsychology and Sociology Department, California State Polytechnic University Email author 
  • , Amy Marcus-NewhallAffiliated withPsychology Department, Scripps College
  • , Brandon NakawakiAffiliated withPsychology Department, Claremont Graduate University
  • , Alian S. KasabianAffiliated withSociology Department, University of Nebraska
  • , Judith LeMasterAffiliated withPsychology Department, Scripps College

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Age at first childbirth affects mothers’ economic and psychological well-being later in life. Using a gender and power framework, two studies examined the associations among age at first childbirth, employment status, perceived choice, and race/ethnicity as predictors of economic and psychological well-being in a sample of middle class, married mothers (Study 1) and a nationally representative sample of married mothers (Study 2). Results indicated younger age at first childbirth is associated with less choice; lower educational attainment; lower SES; greater household labor; greater perceived chore discrepancy; lower self-esteem; less life, work, and relationship satisfaction; but is unrelated to depression or work stress. There were differences by employment status and minimal differences by race/ethnicity. The findings suggest that negative economic and psychological outcomes later in life are related to having one’s first child at a younger age.


Motherhood Age at first childbirth Well-being