Delayed childbearing in the U.S.: facts and fictions

Popul Bull. 1984 Nov;39(4):1-42.


PIP: Between 1970-82, the proportion of 1st births in the US to women 25 and older rose from 19-36% and the proportion of women still childless at ages 25-34 increased by 56% at about the same time. Although a sharp contrast with the baby boom era of the 1950s and 1960s, todays's epidemic of delayed childbearing is similar to patterns earlier in the 20th century. As then, much is due to delayed age at marriage, but baby boomers now in the their late 20s and early 30s are also delaying childbirth after marriage. The trend stems in part from their economic difficulties as they compete in a tight job market caused both by their large numbers and a turbulent economy. But it is also related to women's increasing education and, in turn, increasing opportunities in and commitment to the labor force, which can be expected to encourage a delayed childbearing even after prospects brighten for young people. Although a diverse group, most of today's delayed childbearers are white, highly educated, 2-career couples. Adequate daytime care for preschool children is a prime concern. Although more employers now offer childcare assistance and flexible work schedules to working parents, the juggle between jobs and childraising can be a strain. On the plus side are delayed childbearers' greater maturity and generally higher incomes, which can ease potential problems created by parent-child age differences as their children grow up. Businesses have been quick to respond to the new market of older, affluent, 1st-time mothers. New methods of treating of circumventing infertility and prenatal detection of chromosomal birth defects can now help overcome potential biological problems that may concern women who choose to delay childbearing past age 30.

MeSH terms

  • Adoption
  • Age Factors*
  • Americas
  • Behavior*
  • Birth Intervals*
  • Birth Rate*
  • Child Care*
  • Child Rearing*
  • Congenital Abnormalities*
  • Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities*
  • Demography
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease*
  • Economics*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Family Characteristics
  • Fertility
  • Health Workforce*
  • Incidence*
  • Infertility
  • Marital Status
  • Marriage
  • Maternal Age*
  • North America
  • Occupations
  • Parents*
  • Parity*
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Research
  • Research Design*
  • Single Person
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Therapeutics
  • United States
  • Urogenital System