United Kingdom

The rise of the older mothers: Almost half of women now remain childless by their 30th birthday

Almost half of women now waiting until they are in their 30s to have children, new figures revealed today. 

The figures for women in England and Wales born in 1989, released today by the Office for National Statistics, shows how marked the decline in younger mothers has been on recent decades.

The numbers were in stark contrast to their grandparents' generation, where only one in five women were still childless by the time they reached 30. 

But the statistics released by the ONS today also showed that the average number of children mothers are having rose slightly, have previously hit a modern low.

Amanda Sharfman, from its Centre for Ageing and Demography, said: 'We continue to see a delay in childbearing, with nearly half of women born in 1989 remaining childless by their 30th birthday compared to 1 in 5 in their grandmother's generation. 

'The fertility patterns of women born more recently indicate this trend is likely to continue, with women born in 1995 showing lower levels of fertility in their 20s compared with previous cohorts.'  

Graph showing the median number of children in each family in England and Wales over the past century

She added: 'Average completed family size has been falling since the cohort of women born in 1935 and has been below two children since the late 1950s cohorts. 

'Following a low of 1.89 children for women born in the previous two years' cohorts, we see a slight rise to 1.92 for women born in 1974.'

The ONS figures showed that 49 per cent of women born in 1989 were still childless by the age of 30. 

This compared to 38 per cent other mothers' generation (born in 1961) and 21 of their grandmothers' (born 1934).

The ONS also noted: 'The (average) age of mother has been increasing since the mid-1970s and reached a record high at 30.7 years in 2019.

'The most common age at childbirth for women born in 1974 who reached age 45 years in 2019 was 31 years, an increase compared with 23 years for their mothers’ generation born in 1948.'

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