The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the average age of first-time moms is higher than ever, with the median raised at 26 years old. It seems that women are more likely to put off having children today than they were ten years ago. Couples also appear to value financial security before conceiving, which is good news.
Researchers from the CDC examined records between 2000 and 2014 of first time mothers. In the last 14 years, the median age for first time mothers has lifted from 24.9 years old to 26.3 years old. However, the most major increases have actually been more recent. From 2009 to 2014, the average age of first births rose by 1.2 years.
According to lead author of the study, Deborah Carr from Rutgers University, this could be a result of advancement in technology, medicine, and culture. It seems that both ends of the spectrum age (younger and older mothers) have pushed up on how late they opt to have a child. The number of mothers under 20 years old has gone down by 42% in the last 14 years, and the number of women who conceive after 30 years old is up by 28%. Furthermore, 23% more women over 35 years old become first-time mothers.
One important factor to take into account is that teenage pregnancies are fortunately down. According to Carr, some like to say that “we’re going to hell in a hand-basket with all these 16 year olds giving birth”. However, the researcher stated that it’s simply untrue. In fact, babies born out of women under the age of 20 years old accounted for 1 in 4 births in 2000. In 2014, the rate dropped to 1 in 7 births.
There are numerous factors that can be credited with the change. For one, both awareness and campaigns encouraging various methods of birth control have become better. Younger people are getting more information about methods, and they, in turn, have become more efficient. Furthermore, a partial credit could be given to reality TV and the movie industry. Both have depicted the very unromantic notion of having a child so young.
In essence, they have shown that raising a child as a teenager yourself is not easy task. According to Carr, people are realizing that having a kid is hard. It’s especially more difficult when you’re 16 years old.
Older mothers, on the other hand, have the advantage of technology which can still assure them they will conceive a healthy child later on in life. One of the reasons could be a more ambitious push at advancement in their careers, as well the need for financial security. People in couples more often want to assure one or both of them have a steady, decent income before conceiving.
In addition, while the age for first-time mother has increased, the gap between births has seen a different fate. Back in 2000, couples typically waited an average of 2.8 years before having a second child. In 2014, the median waiting time is 2.4 years, to minimize the time spent away from work.
As stated by Carr, this is “a model of efficiency”. It could potentially be easier to have children more closely spaced, even though it’s initially a true struggle while you’re doing it.
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