Biological clock doesn’t tick for Italian dads

Demographic trends show men are having children later in life

Editorial Staff
November 3, 2005

Italian fathers are the oldest in the world, according to recent analysis carried out by Istat, Italy’s national statistics agency. The data, presented in a recent conference on ‘Paternity in Italy,’ highlights the strong generational differences that influence when parents choose to have their first-born child. Much, it seems, depends on daddy’s birth year. On average, Italian men born in the first half of the sixties, for example, became first-time fathers at the age of thirty-three, 3.5 years later than men born ten years earlier. In Spain, France, and Finland, men tend to become fathers at age 31. Why is dear old dad getting older in Italy? Experts attribute the trend to various social and economic tendencies. Men polled expressed the desire to secure their professional and economic position before starting a family. Financial security, they said, often proves to be a titanic feat due to scarcity of well-paying jobs and restrictions within the Italian job market. Later graduation dates, the time it takes to establish oneself beyond intern status, and the pressures of inflation also hinder young fatherhood.  The trend is not hard to see. Blame it on money matters or social expectations, the fact remains that Italy’s “youngsters” tend to live at home with their parents more than their European counterparts. 40 percent of men aged 30 to 34 live at home with their parents. The same is true for 20 percent of Italian women of that age.  

On the lady’s side of the coin, women are also waiting longer before diving into the joys of motherhood. Women born in the 1960s were prone to have their first child at the age of 27 (2.5 years later than their 1950s’ counterparts). Peninsula-wide studies show that Italians who get married after the age of 35 are at least 80 percent less likely to have children than those who marry at 25.  


The winning choice for women? Get married before the age of thirty to a man older than 35 who has achieved a financially stable position. And the preferred choice of men? Capture a career first, and then the heart of a younger woman, preferably one with a university degree. At least as far as family is concerned, men and women seem to be on the same page in Italy.

more articles