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Life and Religion

What is the ideal age for motherhood?
Survey: 25 is optimum time to start
 
Published Friday, December 20, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

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A recent Gallup study found that although more women and men are delaying parenthood longer than previous generations, the majority of those who do not yet have children hope to someday.

When is the best time for a woman to have her first child?

Is it when she’s in her late teens or early 20s and her chances of conceiving a healthy child are best? Or, perhaps, she should wait a few years and give herself time to graduate college, pursue a career or just simply enjoy her youth.

A recent Gallup poll concluded that, on average, Americans perceive 25 to be the ideal age to start.

Gallup surveyed 5,100 adults in the United States on their experiences and desires with regard to having children. The majority (58 percent) agreed that a woman should have a by age 25. While the vast majority of respondents said they believe women should their families fairly young, the general consensus was that men should wait a little longer, until age 26 or older.

So it’s no surprise that women, on average, reported having their first child earlier in life than men. Twenty-four percent of adult women surveyed who were younger than 30 said they had their first child before age 21, compared with 10 percent of men. And 38 percent of 18- to 29-year-old females currently have at least one child, compared with 25 percent of men in the same age group.

According to the report, modern women are having babies later in life than women in previous generations. Forty percent of the women over 65 said they gave birth to their first child before age 21, compared with just a quarter of women under 30.

Gallup also reports that although men and women are waiting longer, on average, to have children than their parents and grandparents may have, most of those who haven’t had children still hope to someday.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Women (17 percent) are slightly more likely than men (13 percent) to consider it ideal for a woman to postpone motherhood until after age 30.
  • Preference for delayed parenthood increases sharply with education. Americans with higher levels of education are more likely than those with little to no college to believe a woman should wait until age 26 or older to have children.
  • Adults 65 and older are the most likely (72 percent) to say a woman should start having children before age 25.
  • Adults between the ages of 30 and 49 were the least likely (49 percent) to believe that a woman should start that young, compared with 60 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 and 59 percent of adults aged 50 to 64. 

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