The Italian Almanac

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Overaged Moms

More women over 40 have babies in Italy than in any other Western nation, according to new figures highlighting the growing tendency among Italian women to wait for the 'right' moment. Almost five in every 100 babies born in Italy has a mother who is older than 40 and in some regions the figure is six or even seven, said the report by Bocconi University demographics professor Francesco Billari.

Billari, who heads the Bocconi's social dynamics research centre, said prospective mums put off motherhood partly in order to get established in their careers and achieve financial security. This attitude was one of the key reasons why Italy and other developed countries were producing so few children, he said, noting that a mother over 40 usually had only one child. "In the short term, developments in medicine might help a little but they won't be able to invert the trend by themselves".

Billari said many women in Italy and elsewhere were taking their time on the mistaken presumption that medical science would always be able to resolve any fertility hiccups. "News reports on assisted fertility can give women the illusion that they can wait for the right partner for a long time, concentrate on their careers and achieve a good standard of living before becoming mothers," he said. "They don't know how expensive the treatment is and how unreliable artificial insemination is."