Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1 in 5 women childless

New York Times:
Twenty percent of women ages 40 to 44 have no children, double the level of 30 years ago, the report said; and women in that age bracket who do have children have fewer than ever — an average of 1.9 children, compared with the median of 3.1 children in 1976. . . .
Suzanne Bianchi, chairwoman of the sociology department at the University of Maryland [said:] "The interesting question is, has it stopped? Is this it, or
will we see even higher rates of childlessness among future generations?"
(Via Hot Air Headlines. Full report is here.) Well, obviously, Dr. Bianchi, the trend will continue, and demographers estimate that by the time today's 18-year-olds reach their mid-40s, 1-in-4 will be childless. The cause of the trend is not mysterious: Fertility delayed is fertility denied.

Let me quote a 1997 study:
Median age at first birth increased from 21.3 to 24.4 between 1969 and 1994, and the proportion of first-time mothers who were age 30 or older increased from 4.1% to 21.2%.
What demographers refer to as prime childbearing age is 18-to-24. Fertility begins to decline by age 25, and by age 35, the likelihood of pregnancy is only a fraction of what it was at 18. By the mid-1990s, more than 20% of U.S. women were waiting until their 30s to try to have children.

The 1997 study found that 21.2% of first-time mothers were over 30 -- but it doesn't tell us what percentage of women tried to have children after age 30 and found they couldn't.

In reporting the Census Bureau data, the New York Times pretends as if the increase in childlessness were entirely voluntary. It's not. Advanced age is highly implicated in infertility, as are sexually transmitted infections (including chlamydia) that cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute has recently published Sense & Sexuality, a pamphlet by Dr. Miram Grossman that addresses some of the related health issues.

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