Background Postponement of childbearing since the 1970s has led to an increase in permanent involuntarily childlessness. We will address the magnitude of this trend, the effect of IVF/ICSI and the effect on total fertility rate (TFR an often used demographic measure for the level of fertility) in six EU countries.Methods Using a fertility micro-simulation model, we estimate the effect of postponement of first motherhood on permanent involuntary childlessness in six representative European countries since 1970/1985: Sweden, Austria, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, West Germany and Spain. To estimate the effect of IVF/ICSI on this trend, we use data on the Results of all IVF/ICSI cycles performed in The Netherlands in 2003 and 2004. Results Permanent involuntary childlessness approximately doubled since 1970s and rose to ∼4 in the Czech Republic and to ∼7 in Spain with the other countries in between. If all couples entitled to have IVF/ICSI were to be treated, the effect of postponement would almost have been neutralized. However, only a limited proportion of eligible couple are being treated. Without postponement, TFRs would have been between 0.03 and 0.05 higher. Conclusions The effect of postponement on permanent involuntary childlessness is considerable. So far IVF/ICSI only had a slight effect on this trend. The impact of postponement on TFRs is small compared with other demographic trends.

assisted reproduction, epidemiology, infertility, mathematical modelling,
Human Reproduction
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

te Velde, E.R, Habbema, J.D.F, Leridon, H, & Eijkemans, M.J.C. (2012). The effect of postponement of first motherhood on permanent involuntary childlessness and total fertility rate in six European countries since the 1970s. Human Reproduction (Vol. 27, pp. 1179–1183). doi:10.1093/humrep/der455