South Korean First Time Moms Are the Oldest Among OCED Countries

luvsmiling, March 18, 2015, 7:51 a.m.


The median age of mothers at first childbirth in Korea is the highest in the OECD, according to a report by the international organization on Tuesday. As of 2011, Korea and Italy were tied for the oldest mean age of mothers at first childbirth with 30.3 years.

Japan came in third with 30.1 years, the U.K. and Germany shared the fourth place with 30, and Spain was in sixth place with 29.7. Switzerland and Luxembourg followed with 29.6 and 29.3 years. 

Cho Young-tae, a professor at Seoul National University, said, "The average age of women at first marriage has been going up as more and more women are going to university and graduate schools, and the recession has made finding jobs difficult. This has a knock-on effect." 

In 1983, women who had children when they were 35 or older accounted for just 2.8 percent, but the figure jumped to 20.2 percent three decades later. On the other hand, the proportion of women giving birth in their 20s plummeted from 88 percent to 29.3 percent. The proportion of women aged between 30 and 34 giving birth humped dramatically from 9.4 percent to 50.5 percent. 



The trend is becoming more pronounced here and the pace is much faster than in Europe. Between 1995 and 2011, Korea saw an increase of 3.8 years, from 26.5 to 30.3. But Japan only saw an increase of 2.6 years, Switzerland and Italy 2.3 years, Luxembourg 2.1, the U.K. 1.8, Denmark 1.7, the U.S. 1.1, and Germany 1. 

In 1995, the average age of women at first childbirth in Japan, which is known for its notoriously low birthrate, was 27.5, one year older than Korea's 26.5, but the situation was reversed by 2013. Experts point to the percentage of four-year university graduates among women aged 25 to 29 in the 2010 Census. Korea's figure was 41.4 percent, much higher than Japan's 30.8 percent.

Cho Nam-hoon, an emeritus professor at Hanyang University, said, "It's a global trend and is mainly related to longer years of education." 

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