September 14, 2022 | Press Release

How Does Delayed Parenthood Impact Gender Inequality in Education and on the Labor Market?


A team led by MPIDR Researcher Jessica Nisén discovered that delayed parenthood exacerbates the educational advantage of women compared to men and attenuates the income advantage of men. The researchers based their analysis on a novel method and high-quality Finnish register data.

“We wanted to find out if young women and men reach a higher education and get better paid jobs when they have their first child three years later in life,” says Jessica Nisén, Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, and at the University of Turku, Finland.

Nisén and her MPIDR colleagues Maarten Bijlsma, Pekka Martikainen, Mikko Myrskylä and Ben Wilson (Stockholm University) published their findings in the scientific journal Advances in Life Course Research.

The researchers show that later parenthood adds to the educational advantage of women compared to men. At the same time, later parenthood attenuates the income advantage of men across young adulthood. “The results provide population-level evidence on how delayed parenthood likely has contributed to strengthen the educational position of women compared to that of men,” says Jessica Nisén.

Data from Finnish registers

The researchers used high-quality data from Finnish registers that have been linked by Statistics Finland using the Finnish social security number. They analyzed a population sample of women and men born in Finland in 1974 and 1975. As method, they used a novel longitudinal analysis approach, the parametric g-formula: It allows to estimate effects averaged over the population among all women and men and average treatment effects among mothers and fathers. 

This way, they found that delayed parenthood improves the incomes of fathers at the time of entering parenthood even more so than for mothers. “Among our current findings, I find especially interesting how the delay of parenthood impacts the income of men when they enter parenthood. That has been overlooked so far,” says Nisén. The finding helps explain why progress in achieving gender equality in the division of paid and unpaid work in families has been slow.

Original Publication

Nisén, J., Bijlsma, M. J., Martikainen, P., Wilson, B., Myrskylä, M.: The gendered impacts of delayed parenthood: A dynamic analysis of young adulthood. Advances in Life Course Research (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.alcr.2022.100496

Authors and Affiliations

Jessica Nisén, University of Turku; Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

Maarten J. Bijlsma, University of Groningen; Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

Pekka Martikainen, University of Helsinki; Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

Ben Wilson, Stockholm University; London School of Economics and Political Science

Mikko Myrskylä, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock; University of Helsinki


Head of the Department of Public Relations and Publications

Silvia Leek


+49 381 2081-143

Science Communication Editor

Silke Schulz


+49 381 2081-153

What next?

To the Home Page

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.