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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries
cohort where footnotes are indicated; recent delays in the timing of parenthood in these two regions make such an estimate for the youngest cohort impossible.
In former Soviet Asia, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, there is very little change in the age patterns of first-time parenthood, as the table shows. For all three cohorts, a quarter of women in former Soviet Asia are mothers by age 20 and half by age 21.5; in South America, a quarter of women are mothers by age 19 and half by age 22. In the case of Central America and the Caribbean, the age pattern of first parenthood has stayed roughly the same for the past 10 years, with a quarter becoming mothers by age 18 and half by age 21; in the previous 10 years there was a one-year rise in the median age at first-time parenthood. Figure 8-1 depicts these regional trends with data from an illustrative country from each region. Uzbekistan and Colombia are the countries that best exemplify the regions in which there has been little change in the distribution of ages of first-time motherhood, particularly in recent years.
Table 8-2 shows that in South Asia and the Middle East, there has been an overall shift in the distribution of age at first birth toward an older pattern. The changes are particularly notable between the younger two cohorts in South Asia, where this increase has occurred in most countries. Exceptions are Nepal, where there has been a slight decline in the age of motherhood overall, and Vietnam, where things have been constant. In most countries in Southern Asia, the change has been moderate. In the youngest cohort, a quarter of women ages 20-24 became mothers by 18.2, up from 17.7 among women ages 40-44. Among the younger women in Southern Asia we examined, half were mothers by age 20.8, which is up from age 20 among those ages 40-44. We illustrate this modal pattern in Figure 8-1 with information on Indonesia.
In the Middle East, the increase in the age at first-time motherhood has been more substantial. In the oldest cohort, a quarter of women were mothers by age 18.5, and this milestone was reached by the youngest women at age 20.1. The most notable change in this region is that, for the youngest cohort, half of the women living in the countries of the Middle East for which there are data were childless at age 24. In Figure 8-1 we illustrate this dramatic shift with detailed data for Jordan.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, there has been an intercohort increase in the age by which a quarter of women have become mothers of about a year, from 17 to 17.9. There has also been an increase of about a year in the median age at first birth from 19 to 20. We illustrate the overall trend for this region in Figure 8-1 with data on Ethiopia. This is an accurate depiction of the experience of most of the people in this region, including those in the very populous country of Kenya (the data in Table 8-2 are weighted). Nevertheless, it is important to note that in most of the countries in this