Fertility and Well-Being

Research Area

Costs and Gains of Postponing Parenthood

Keywords: Fertility Development; Health Care, Public Health, Medicine, and Epidemiology

Maternal and paternal ages at birth are increasing across the developed world, giving rise to concerns about the individual- and population-level effects of fertility postponement on the health of offspring. We analyze how parental age is associated with individual-level outcomes of children, which mechanisms might be responsible for these associations, and whether these relationships are causal. We seek to distinguish the separate contributions of parental biological aging, resource accumulation, and changing period conditions to the association between parental age and child outcomes. Moreover, we analyze the population-level impact of the shifting parental-age distribution on the offspring´s health and on other outcomes. We also consider the effect of fertility postponement on birth spacing, family size, and birth order in a sibling group, and how these various factors might influence long-term outcomes.

Projects in this research area focus on a wide range of outcomes for the offspring of older parents, including their cognitive ability, health, education, career success, and mortality. We use methods that compare siblings to account for unobserved parental characteristics. To cover a wide range of contexts in which the relative importance of aging, resources, and period conditions might differ, we use large population-based samples from the U.S., register-based data from Scandinavian countries, Demographic and Health Surveys, and other sources.

This research area is partially funded by the European Research Council Starting Grant for the years 2014-2019 (grant number; “Costs and Gains to Postponement: How Changes in the Age of Parenthood Influence the Health and Well-being of Children, the Parents, and Populations (COSTPOST)” PI: Mikko Myrskylä). Studies are conducted in collaboration with the London School of Economics.

Projects of this Research Area: