The average age of a first-time mother in Sweden is now 29.15 years and a first-time father 31.49 years, a report from the national statistics agency Statistics Sweden showed on Friday.
Although the national average has not changed remarkably over the past few years, the statistics point to a rather huge gap regarding the age between first-time mothers living in big cities like Stockholm, who have their first child at almost 32, and those living in small towns like Filipstad and Tranås, who are around 25.
The agency said that education levels as well as the Nordic country’s generous parental leave scheme are believed to play key roles.
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Johan Tollebrant, a Statistisc Sweden expert on demographic trends, told Swedish news agency TT that because the parental leave – considered to be one of the most generous in the world with a total of 480 days – is linked to the parents having a job, most first-time mothers wait until they’re established on the job market.
This is where the gap between Stockholm and for example Filipstad kicks in, because many first-time mothers in the bigger cities get a degree before starting a family, meaning they start working later. In many rural areas, however, the trend is the opposite.
“It’s because those who stay are those who don’t leave to go to university. They often have children earlier because they are already established on the job market when they’re around 20 years old and might have a full-time job,” said Tollebrant.
According to the agency, the average age for first-time mothers shot up during the 1990s, after the financial crisis, when more and more people chose to get a university degree. Since then, the fluctuations year-on-year have been fairly small.
Sweden is more or less in line with the European Union age average of first-time mothers, which is at around 29, according to Eurostat figures from 2015. The youngest mothers were found in Bulgaria, who gave birth for the first time at the average age of 25.7 years, and the oldest in Italy, where the average age was 30.6 years.
Tollebrant said that Sweden has not yet seen any negative impacts of first-time mothers being older nowadays.