Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 291–321 | Cite as

The effect of delaying motherhood on the second childbirth in Europe

  • Massimiliano Bratti
  • Konstantinos TatsiramosEmail author
Original Paper


We examine the effect of delaying motherhood on the transition to the second childbirth across European countries. There exist two opposite forces of delaying the first birth: biological and socio-cultural factors producing a postponement effect and career-related factors leading to a catch-up effect. Estimating a multistate duration model that addresses the endogeneity of age at first birth, we find a catch-up effect in countries where the career effect is large and a postponement effect in countries where the opportunity cost of childbearing is relatively high due to the lack of family friendly institutions and cultural influences, which may discourage late childbearing.

JEL Classification

C41 J13 



We thank three anonymous referees, Deborah Cobb-Clark, John Ermisch and Daniel Hamermesh for their very helpful comments and discussions. Earlier versions of this paper (circulated under the title “Explaining How Delayed Motherhood Affects Fertility Dynamics in Europe”, IZA DP No 3907) have also benefited from comments received at seminars at IZA, RWI-Essen, MPI in Rostock and Keele University, the BHPS Conference in Colchester, the III Workshop on ‘Economics of the Family’ in Zaragoza, the ESPE Conference in London, the EALE Conference in Amsterdam and the EEA Conference in Barcelona. The paper is partly based on work carried out by Massimiliano Bratti during his visits to the European Centre for Analysis in the Social Sciences (ECASS) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (University of Essex) supported by the Access to Research Infrastructure action under the European Community’s ‘Improving Human Potential Programme’, and at IZA in Bonn, which are both acknowledged for their financial assistance. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)BonnGermany
  2. 2.DEAS, Università degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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