What is special about the age of 33 years

The social situation in Germany

In western Germany, the age of women giving birth for the first time has risen steadily since 1970. In 2018, the mothers of the first child with an average of 30 years were around five and a half years older than fifty years earlier. In eastern Germany, the birth behavior changed significantly after reunification: Between 1989 and 2010, the age of the first child rose from 22.9 to 27.4 years, i.e. by four and a half years (2018: 29.2 years). The increase in the age of mothers at the time of the birth of their first child began later in East Germany, but then progressed more steeply than in West Germany. Regardless of marital status and the order of birth, foreign women were on average younger than German women when they gave birth to their children.

Facts

In order to determine the age of mothers when their children were born, only the mothers of children born in wedlock were recorded in West Germany up to and including 2008. As long as almost all children were born into a marriage, this practice produced meaningful results. However, the proportion of children born out of wedlock in Germany rose from 5.8 to 32.1 percent between 1965 and 2008. The survey method was adapted accordingly and since 2009 the so-called biological birth order has also been recorded in West Germany.

In 2018, the parents of every third newborn child were not married (33.9 percent). The proportion of live births from unmarried parents in West Germany was 29.3 percent (1991: 10.7 percent) and in East Germany 57.2 percent (1991: 41.2 percent). In Berlin, which is considered separately, around half of all children have been born outside of marriage since 2008 - from the early to mid-1990s it was less than a third.

Between 1965 and 1970 the age of West German women at the first birth decreased slightly from 24.9 to 24.3 years, after which it has risen steadily. In 2018, the mothers of the first child with an average of 30.0 years were around five and a half years older than fifty years earlier. For the second child, the mean age of the mothers in 2018 was 32.1 years and for the third child 33.1 years.

In eastern Germany, the age of mothers giving birth for the first time fluctuated only slightly between 22 and 23 years until the end of the 1980s. After reunification, the birth behavior changed significantly: Between 1989 and 2010, the age of the first child rose from 22.9 to 27.4 years, i.e. by four and a half years. By 2018, the age of mothers giving birth to their first child had increased further to 29.2 years. For the second child, the mean age of the mothers in 2018 was 31.7 years and for the third child 33.1 years.

In relation to the average age of mothers at the birth of the first legitimate child, the age of mothers in East Germany increased as much in the twelve years from 1991 to 2003 as it did in West Germany in the 24 years from 1976 to 2000 (in each case from 24 , 9 to 29.0 years). The Federal Statistical Office sees the reasons for this rapid change in East Germany in the changed conditions for young motherhood in the years after reunification: insecure labor market situation, elimination of family support in the former GDR, the need for reorientation in society and, in some cases, longer training periods and Extended phases of professional establishment among the younger generation of women.

Regardless of marital status and the order of birth, foreign women were on average younger than German women when they gave birth to their children. Of the 787,523 live-born children in 2018, 598,364 were from German mothers and 189,159 from foreign mothers. Of the German mothers, 9.0 percent were younger than 25 years, and of the foreign mothers it was 20.6 percent. In 2018, 26.1 percent of German and 29.8 percent of foreign mothers belonged to the group of 25 to under 30-year-olds. 38.7 percent of German mothers were between 30 and under 35 years old, the corresponding proportion of foreign mothers was only 28.4 percent.

Around 787,500 children were born alive in 2018. Regardless of their mother's marital status, 46.5 percent of them were first children (366,000). 35.3 percent were the second and 12.2 percent the third child (278,400 / 96,100). 3.8 percent were the fourth and 2.2 percent the fifth or further child (29,800 / 17,300). In three percent of the 366,000 firstborn babies in 2018, the mother was older than 39 years; in 67 firstborn babies, the mother was 50 years or older.

Data on the birth interval are also available for 2015: the second children born in 2015 were on average four years younger than their first-born siblings across Germany (4.1 years). The third children were born an average of five years after the birth of the second child (4.8 years). However, in 44.7 percent of the second births and in 36.6 percent of the third births, the gap to the previous child was less than three years.

Finally, special evaluations have shown that in the years 2000 and 2010 in both western and eastern Germany it was the case that the greater the age of the mothers, the greater the interval between births - namely the interval between the first and second child as well as the greater between the second and third child (average birth gap to the birthday of the previous child in the existing marriage). In this context, the Federal Statistical Office points out that "Mothers with several children apparently have their first child earlier [...] than the average of all mothers."

Data Source

Federal Office of Statistics

Terms, methodological notes or reading aids

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