Romania, among the countries where grandparents have the lowest life expectancy

Romania is among the countries where grandparents have the lowest life expectancy, according to a new study about moms, parents and grandparents. Bulgaria and Latvia are experiencing similar situations.

Twenty-nine years and three months is currently the average age at which women become mothers in most developed or developing countries. The new research has found that, based on national averages, older age of new moms tends to correlate with longer-living grandparents and vice versa. Grandchildren in wealthier nations get to spend more time with their grandparents, but this has no relation to when women in those countries tend to start a family.

This is according to a new study from The Calculator Site, who analysed the latest available fertility and life expectancy data across 37 countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Fertility indicators relate to the mean national ages of mothers at their first live birth, measured in 2021 or earlier. Life expectancy estimates use the average years that both males and females reaching the age of 65 expect to live in each country, measured mainly in 2021 or the latest public figures. Researchers focus on differences between generations, thus assuming life expectancy indicates a potential grandparent’s age, not necessarily whether that person is, in fact, a grandparent. The life expectancy and fertility data are sourced from the OECD, while GDP per capita estimates are based on 2024 estimates from the International Monetary Fund.

Oldest and youngest mothers

The oldest first-time mothers among the evaluated OECD countries live in Korea, Spain and Italy. New moms in Korea are generally aged 32 years and seven months. Those in Spain and Italy both have an average age of 31 years and seven months. In total, women in 13 countries become mothers after their 30th birthday, with another 10 countries doing so just before that, at the age of 29.

The youngest mothers live in Bulgaria, where the average age at which women give birth for the first time is 26 and a half years. New mothers in Turkey only delay this by a month. Women in Chile and Romania tend to have their first child right after their 27th birthday.

Oldest grandparents

Japan is home to the oldest grandparents, whose life expectancy averages to 87 years and three months. Interestingly, it is also one of the countries where grandmothers outlive grandfathers by a significant number of years – namely, four years and nine months. The only other nations where this gap is even wider are Estonia, where grandmothers outlive grandfathers by five years and a month; Lithuania, with a five-year difference; and Latvia, where grandmothers live for another four years and ten months.

Grandparents in Australia, Switzerland, Korea, Spain, France and Iceland live, on average, between 86 and 87 years. There are only two countries in the OECD where life expectancy is below 80: Bulgaria and Romania.

Luckiest grandchildren

In countries where grandparents live longer, women also tend to give birth later. The same is true in reverse: the shorter the life expectancy, the earlier women in that country tend to start a family. The time that grandparents could spend with their grandchildren is the longest in Chile, France and Israel. The grandchildren that tend to lose their last grandparent the fastest live in Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria.

A country’s wealth is irrelevant to starting families

Wealthier nations do tend to live longer, but no clear patterns correlate GDP per capita to fertility rates. The US, for instance, is the sixth richest nation evaluated and has the fifth youngest mothers. Meanwhile, Greece has the eighth lowest GDP per capita – yet women here are the seventh oldest in the OECD community to become mothers.

It is, however, true that grandchildren in more affluent countries get to spend more time with their grandparents based on the fact that life expectancy is generally higher there, while the age at which their mother starts a family appears irrelevant.

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