Childless Women: The New Norm?

Childless Women: The New Norm?

Although mothers in the workplace are as hot a topic as ever, recent research shows that more women today are delaying being a parent—or forgoing it altogether.

A special report on fertility data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the American birth rate was just 63 births per 1,000 women in 2014—down significantly from 71.2 births in 1990 and 118 in 1960.


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Contributing to the decrease? More women in their 30s and 40s are going childless. About 15.3% of U.S. women between ages 40 and 44 don't have children; neither do 18.5% of women between 35 and 39.

Both figures are a stark upswing from the 9.2% and 9.9% of women in those age ranges, respectively, who didn't have kids in 2008.

Even those who are choosing to have children are more likely to only have one these days—the number of women ages 40 to 44 with a single child nearly doubled between 1976 and 2014.

The Financial Reasons for Forgoing Motherhood

So what could be behind the falling childbirth rate?

For starters, women are delaying parenthood because they are more focused on their careers and education—which means they have a smaller window of fertility to take advantage of, Gretchen Livingston, a researcher at the Pew Research Center, tells MarketWatch.

Then there are the cost considerations. The cost of raising a child is estimated at $245,000 until age 18, and child care is consistently one of the biggest expenses for parents, ranging anywhere from about $5,400 to more than $16,500, depending on where you live. With price tags like that, many couples simply don't think they can afford to raise a large family.

The demographic trend of delaying marriage also shortens the timeframe in which couples have kids—and part of the reason the younger generations are putting off matrimony is because they feel the need to be financially secure first, according to Pew Research.

But all this doesn't mean the idea of family still doesn't hold strong. In fact, one academic study by the University of Chicago shows that 40% of women have fewer children than they ideally would like to have.

Are cost considerations one of the factors playing into your decision to have kids? Check out our breakdown of the biggest child-related expenses at every age, and calculate whether you can afford childcare after baby arrives.

RELATED: Working Dad Guilt: Why Many Fathers Struggle with Work-Life Balance


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