Why American Women Everywhere Are Delaying Motherhood

Delaying or forgoing having children is becoming increasingly popular among millennials, and by 2020 the birth rate for American women aged 15 to 44 will drop to a historic low. A new report has come out on American women and fertility. It should have set off alarm bells in the media. Instead, the New York Times buried it on page B-13, and the mainstream media did not cover it at all.

 Women are increasingly waiting to get married – or not getting married at all.

Women are waiting longer to get married and have children. In fact, the average age of first-time mothers in the United States is 26 years old.

“The average age at which women have their first child has been rising steadily over time,” said Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate with the Guttmacher Institute. “It’s due to a number of factors: more women are pursuing higher education and putting off marriage; more women are working full time; there are more opportunities for women to be single parents.”

The average age of first-time mothers has risen from 21.4 years old in 1970 to 26 years old in 2015, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The data also show that out of all births in 2015, 33 percent were to unmarried women — twice as many as in 1990.

 College graduates are more likely to have children later in life.

A new study shows that American women are having children later in life. In fact, the average age of a mother at the time of her first birth has increased by four years since 1970.

  • Why are American women delaying motherhood?

The study, published in the journal Population and Development Review, finds that college graduates are more likely to have children later in life. That’s partly because they’re more likely to attend graduate school, which delays marriage and childbirth.

The researchers also found that people with higher incomes have fewer children than those with lower incomes, which is especially true for women who have completed postgraduate degrees. Women with advanced degrees have a “positive relationship” between education level and fertility rate of 0.66 (where 1 represents the highest fertility rate). This means that for every additional year of education a woman earns, she will have 0.66 fewer children on average throughout her lifetime.

 Women are postponing childbearing thanks to better medical care and fertility treatments.

Women are postponing childbearing thanks to better medical care and fertility treatments.

As the U.S. fertility rate has fallen to a record low, some experts have pointed to economics as the culprit: Women are having children later in life because they’re putting off marriage or their careers, which makes them less likely to have children at all. Others have blamed the changing roles of women in society and the rising costs of childcare.

But new research suggests that women aren’t just delaying motherhood — they’re also deciding not to become mothers at all. And it’s not just wealthy, urban women who are opting out of parenthood — it’s also working-class rural women and minorities who are avoiding pregnancy and childbirth as well. The drop in fertility rates is happening across all socioeconomic groups, according to the new study published yesterday in the journal Population and Development Review.

 The rise of single motherhood has changed the face of parenting.

The Great Recession and the current economic recovery have hit women hard. Women are now more likely than ever before to be their family’s primary breadwinner. And so, as more and more women find themselves head of the household and in need of an income, they’re delaying marriage and children in order to focus on their careers.

In addition to economic factors, cultural shifts have contributed to this trend. The rise of single motherhood has changed the face of parenting, with more women becoming mothers without a husband or partner by their side.

Today, out-of-wedlock births are at an all-time high. In fact, the number of single mothers has risen dramatically over the past three decades — from less than 10% in 1980 to nearly 30% today — according to data from Child Trends and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

 Some women choose not to have kids at all.

Women are delaying motherhood longer than ever before, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

In 2014, American women had their first child at an average age of 26, up from an average age of 23 in 1970. The trend is especially pronounced among college-educated women: In 2014, they had their first child at 28, up from 22 in 1970.

The reasons behind this trend are many and varied, but they have one thing in common: They’re all about choice. Some women choose not to have kids at all; others wait until their careers are established or until they find the right partner. And some just want to be sure that having kids won’t mess up their plans for travel and career advancement.

  • The growing number of childless women

It’s been said that women who don’t have kids are selfish — but it’s also true that more women than ever before are choosing not to become mothers. According to Pew’s research:

In 1976 — when the birth rate hit its peak in America — more than half of all women ages 40-44 had given birth at least once by then (compared with about 40 percent today).


Oftentimes, the choice to delay motherhood is being made for economic or career advancement reasons, but it goes deeper than that. It’s a choice that many women are making because they are recognizing the benefits of motherhood as a natural process and nurturing as an instinct. They find it empowering control over their own reproductive health and in empowering themselves to live the life that is best for them.

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