Department of Sociology
Sickness absence

Does postponed first pregnancy increase gender differences in sickness absence?

Anja M. S. Ariansen at The Department of Sociology and Arnstein Mykletun has published a new study that investigates whether higher average age at first delivery increase gender differences in sickness absence.


Main content

The average age of first delivery in Norway increased from 23,2 to 28,5 years between 1970-2012. Increased age at first delivery increases risks of medical complications both during and after pregnancy. Sickness absence during pregnancy has increased substantially the last two decades compared to non-pregnant women.

The authors have carried out a study using registry-data to analyse sickness absence among all Norwegian employees with income equivalent to full-time work in the period 1993–2007. Results show that postponing first pregnancy cannot explain increased sickness absence for pregnant women in the period. The increase in sickness absence for pregnant women between 20-24 years increased 0,96 % per calendar year in the period, but only by 0,60 % for those between 30-34 years. The average of all pregnant women (20-44 years) was 0,94% compared to 0,29 % for non-pregnant women and 0,14 % for men.

The increase in sickness absence during pregnancy is considerable, but cannot be explained by postponement of first pregnancy. The cause of increased gender differences in sickness absence is therefore mainly due to the increase with non-pregnant women, atlthough about 1/4 of the increase applies to pregnant women.

Read the article here.