15 November 2022

New project will map and analyse late parenthood in Denmark


What are the age norms for parenthood, what characterise the life trajectories of parents having children late, and how does late parenthood affect work life? These are key questions in a new project at the Department of Sociology supported by Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Baby hand. Photo: Colourbox
Photo: Colourbox

More and more people become first-time parents at a very late age. Transition to parenthood at age 35+ or 40+ is not a rare phenomenon anymore. Simultaneously, late transition to parenthood has received increasing attention across Europe, but there is little research on the topic in Denmark, despite the mean age at first birth has been increasing since the late 1960s.

Now a new study will provide the first comprehensive demographic and sociological investigation into late parenthood in Denmark thanks to a grant from Independent Research Fund Denmark, awarded under its ‘Inge Lehmann programme’ (see fact box).

The project is led by Assistant Professor Mengni Chen from Department of Sociology at the UCPH, who will investigate three

aspects of late parenthood:

  • Firstly, as timing of childbearing is not only influenced by the ‘biological clock’ but also by a ‘social clock’, the project will examine age norms for parenthood and how these norms vary across subpopulations. It will also construct so-called normative timetables to understand how age norms for parenthood are related to age norms for other life events.
  • Secondly, the project will identify types of couples’ pre-parenthood life trajectories (e.g. life histories of education, employment and partnership) that are associated with late parenthood.
  • Thirdly, the project will look into how late parenthood would affect couples’ future life, by examining how they arrange their labor supply after late childbirth.

The study has a quantitative approach and will include data from European Social Survey in Denmark as well as Danish registry data. Furthermore, it will include couple-level analysis, preparing a dataset that consists of long-term observation for parents’ labor supply around the first birth.

The project is planned to run from 2023 to 2025.


Mengni Chen
Associate professor
Department of Sociology
Mail: mech@soc.ku.dk 
Phone: +45 35 33 52 83

Søren Bang
The Faculty of Social Sciences
Mail: sba@samf.ku.dk
Mobil: +45 29 21 09 73


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