Postponing maternity in Ireland

Cathal O'Donoghue, Teagasc
David W Meredith, Teagasc
Eamon O'Shea, NUI Galway

Recently published Census of Population data for Ireland confirms continued population growth through the twin process of natural increase and immigration. Closer examination of births data indicates that the process of delayed or postponed maternity is, as in many other developed countries, increasingly prevalent. In this paper we outline the development of this phenomenon, considering changes in first and later births separately. Adapting Walker’s (1996) theoretical model we incorporate declining marginal return on experience to provide a human capital/career planning explanation for maternity postponement. Taking data from the 1994 Living in Ireland Survey a hazard model empirically testing this model found the career-planning hypothesis held. However an assumption about perfect capital markets failed indicating the impact of an income effect on the timing of maternity. The model also identified the importance of cohort differences in the timing of marriage in explaining much of the inter-cohort specific differences in the timing of maternity.

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Presented in Session 83: Timing of Family Formation