Faster Transition to the Second Child in late 20th Century Finland: A Study of Birth Intervals
Keywords:Interbirth interval, sibling spacing, age at first birth, fertility, education, FINNFAMILY data
Birth intervals are known to influence child and parental health and wellbeing, yet studies on the recent development of birth intervals in contemporary developed societies are scarce. We used individual-level representative register data from Finland (N=26,120; 54% women) to study the first interbirth interval of singleton births in cohorts born in 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, and 1975. In women, the average interbirth interval has shortened by 7.8 months and in men by 6.2 months between the cohorts of 1955 and 1975. A higher age at first birth was associated with shorter birth intervals (in women, b = -1.68, p<.001; in men, b = -1.77, p<.001 months per year). Educational level moderated the effect of age at first on the first birth interval in both sexes. Due to rising ages at first birth in developed societies and the manifold ramifications of shorter birth intervals, this topic deserves more scholarly attention and studies from other countries.