The delay of maternity and its causes: an analysis of the timing of the first child in Spain

Margarita Delgado, Alessandra De Rose, Laura Barrios, Francisco Zamora Lopez


This study explores factors related to the delay in the timing of fertility and the sharp decline in total fertility  in Spain since 1970.. The focus is on comparing elderly female cohorts born between 1941-55 with younger females born after 1970. Data come from the very recent and as yet unanalyzed fertility survey, "Fecundidad, familia y valores 2006" conducted in Spain on a sample of 9700 women. It is a survey of women  aged 15 and over who reside in Spain and investigates, among other things, their occupational history, their pregnancies and relationships, as well as many exceedingly useful questions for our study, such as those about education levels, and opinions and values. We model the transition to the first birth using life history analysis techniques, and test, in particular, the role played by changing strategies of union formation and by participation in the labour market.  The role played by female involvement in the labour market is important and complex and changes across cohorts. Our results suggest that being employed is not  necessarily a deterrant to starting a union and conceiving a child, but the search for  stable employment and lack of flexibility into the labour market delay the timing of family formation.


Margarita DELGADO, Investigadora Científica,Centro de CC. Humanas y Sociales,Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas,Calle Albasanz, 26-28, 28037 Madrid, Spain. E-mail:

Alessandra DE ROSE, Professor of Demography Dipartimento di studi geoeconomici, linguistici, statistici e storici per l’analisi regionale, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Via del Castro Laurenziano, 9 . 00161 Roma, Italy. E-mail:

Laura BARRIOS, Jefe de Área. Unidad Estadística. Subdirección General Adjunta de Informática, Consejo superior de Investigaciones Científicasc/Pinar, 19. 28006. Madrid, Spain. E-mail:

Francisco ZAMORA LÓPEZ, Profesor Titular de Universidad, Departamento de Sociología II, Ecología Humana y Población Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Campus de Somosaguas, 28223 Madrid-España,  Spain E-mail:



fertility; life history analysis; women employment

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54