Record numbers of women reach 30 child-free in England and Wales

Record numbers of women are reaching the age of 30 child-free, new official figures have shown.

More than half (50.1%) of women in England and Wales born in 1990 were without a child when they turned 30 en 2020, the first generation to do so, según la Oficina de Estadísticas Nacionales (NOSOTROS).

That is almost three times higher than the lowest number of women ever to be child-free at 30 - 17.9% of those born in 1941.

At the same time the average number of children women have by the time they reach 30 has fallen to its lowest-ever level (0.96).

The latest ONS data on childbirth also show that, while two-child families remain the norm, growing numbers of women are never becoming mothers or having only one baby.

The statistics confirm the major shift towards older motherhood that has taken place over recent years, that experts have linked to advances by women in the workplace, the cost of rearing children and people taking longer than before to establish significant relationships.

“We continue to see a delay in childbearing, with women born in 1990 becoming the first cohort where half of the women remain childless by their 30th birthday”, said Amanda Sharfman of the ONS’s centre for ageing and demography.

“Levels of childlessness by age 30 have been steadily rising since a low of 18% for women born in 1941. Lower levels of fertility in those currently in their 20s indicate that this trend is likely to continue," ella añadió.

Among women who turned 45 last year almost one in five – 18% – were without children, a big rise compared with the 13% of their mothers’ generation who did not become a parent.

The number of women having only one child has also risen sharply in that age group, desde 13% among their mothers’ generation to 17% el año pasado.

Mothers who turned 45 last year – the ONS deems childbearing age to end the day before a women reaches 46 – had on average 1.92 niños. That was the same number as those born a year earlier but was less than the 2.08 offspring that their mothers had.

The most common age at which women born in 1975 gave birth was 31, nine years later than their mothers did at the age of 22.

Average family size has fallen. While the commonest family unit remains those with two children, their number is falling. Among women in that age group 37% gave birth twice compared with the 44% of their mothers’ generation – women born in 1949 – who did so.

Just over a quarter (27%) had three or more children while 17% had just one son or daughter.

“The average number of children born to a woman has been below two for women born since the late 1950s,” added Sharfman. The lowest average was 1.89 children among women born in 1972 y 1973.

The ONS believes that the average number of children is likely to stay at or above 1.92, based on current levels of cumulative fertility seen in women born in the mid-to-late 1970s.

“While two-child families are still the most common, women who have recently completed their childbearing are more likely than their mothers’ generation to have only one child or none at all,” Sharfman added.

Dr Jo Mountfield, a consultant obstetrician and vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, dicho: “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. 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. With the advances of technology and medicine, including access to contraception, fertility treatments and egg freezing, women have more control and options on how and when to have children.”

sin embargo, young people should bear in mind that natural fertility starts to decline from the age of 35 and later pregnancy involves an increased risk of complications, including it taking longer to get pregnant, fertility problems and a higher risk of miscarriage, ella añadió.

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