Age at first birth and later life health in Eastern and Western Europe

Emily Grundy, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Else Foverskov, University of Copenhagen

Many studies of contemporary societies have found links between early age at entry to parenthood and poorer health in later life. However most have focussed on Western populations and few have been comparative. Both antecedents and consequences of early parenthood may be different in Eastern European countries which have had a pattern of earlier motherhood and, during the Soviet era, family and employment policies which may have buffered disadvantages faced by young parents. We analyse retrospective life course data from 11 European countries to analyse associations between early parenthood and health at ages 50-80 in groupings of Western and European countries taking account of childhood circumstances. East-West differences identified included stronger effect of childhood circumstances on early parenthood in the West compared to the East and a stronger association between early parenthood and divorce, high parity and lower occupational status, and a greater impact of these factors on health, in the Western European country group. There were fewer differences when a relative, rather than absolute indicator of early parenthood was used. Modles estimated used multiple imputation to allow for missing data showed substantially the same results as those estimated using complete case data. Findings indicate that the effects of early parenthood on later life health may be modified by social context and policy.

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Presented in Session 108: Biodemography and later life outcomes