Most women today are not mothers by the time they turn 30, new figures reveal
The new norm.
Record numbers of women are reaching the age of 30 without having had children, new figures have revealed.
In fact, according to according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than half (50.1 percent) of women in England and Wales born in 1990 were child-free when they turned 30 in 2020.
And the figures are very similar here on our shores. In fact, the mean age of Irish women at the birth of their first child in 2018 was 30.5.
In comparison, according to the Office for National Statistics, if your turn the clock back, 86 percent of women born in 1941 had at least one child by the time they turned 30.
However, over time this has declined – with 76 percent of those born in 1950 having babies by the age of 30 and 57 percent of women born in 1970 having had a baby by their 30th birthday.
The ONS data also shows that, while two-child families remain the norm, growing numbers of women are having only one child or never becoming mothers.
More 'older' mothers
These statistics confirm that there has been a major shift towards 'older motherhood' in recent years.
This, experts believe, is due to many factors, including more women opting for longer degrees and years in education, advances by women in the workplace, the cost of buying a home and bringing up children and also the fact that often, people take longer these days to establish significant relationships.
"Over the last few decades, there has been a general trend of women choosing to have babies later than women a generation ago, and a growing trend of women having fewer or no children," Dr Jo Mountfield, a consultant obstetrician and vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, explains to Netmums.
"This is due to a range of social, professional and financial reasons. Choosing when to have children is a personal decision that should be fully respected and supported, as should the decision to have no children."
More childless women and one-child families
"We continue to see a delay in childbearing, with women born in 1990 becoming the first cohort of women where half remain childless by their 30th birthday," Amanda Sharfman, from the ONS’s centre for ageing and demography, explains.
"Levels of childlessness by age 30 have been steadily rising since a low of 18 percent for women born in 1941."
A decline in fertility rates come into play too.
"Lower levels of fertility in those currently in their 20s indicate that this trend is likely to continue," Sharfman added.
The number of women who don't have children at all is rising, too.
Among women who turned 45 last year, almost one in five – 18 percent – were without children, compared with 13 percent of their mothers’ generation.
The number of women having just one child has also risen sharply in that age group, from 13 percent among their mothers’ generation to 17 percent last year.