Women are having fewer children than their mothers did: research
Published 20/12/2011 | 08:39
WOMEN are having fewer children and at an older age than a generation ago, new statistics show.
Women born in the 1960s have had fewer children than a generation ago to women born in the 1930s, new data has revealed.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics in Britain show that women are choosing to have smaller families and later in life.
Comparisons were made between women born in 1965 and their mother's generation who were born in 1938.
Greater use of contraception after the development of The Pill and women choosing to put their careers ahead of starting a family are likely to be the reasons, experts said.
It was found that women born in the 1930s had on average 2.39 children compared with just 1.91 children to women born in the 1960s.
Strikingly there are more women born in the 1960s who have remained childless, with one in five having had no children compared with one in nine women born in the 1930s.
This may be due to better contraception, increased infertility or a combination of both.
There were also fewer large families born to women of the 1960s.
One in ten women born in 1965 had four or more children compared with one in five women born in 1938.
Women born in 1980 have had slightly fewer children on average (1.03) by their 30th birthday than women born in 1965 who had 1.18 children by the same age.
A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said: "This new data indicates that women today are having fewer children compared to their mothers in the 1930s.
"There are a number of reasons why. These include social factors such as more women entering the workplace than in previous generations and better career opportunities which may delay childbearing.
"Lifestyle factors such as the effects of maternal obesity, the effects of alcohol and smoking may all cause fertility problems. In addition, better access to contraception have helped women to plan their family size.”
It comes after other figures showed that more than one in four young women first have sex below the age of 16 – a greater proportion than previous generations.
Data from the Health Survey for England showed 27 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 first had sex under the age of consent, compared with 22 per cent of men of the same age.
The 2010 report suggests sexual behaviour has changed over the generations, with the proportion of women who first had sex below the age of 16 increasing over time.
Just 15 per cent of men and four per cent of women aged 55 to 69 said they first had sex under the age of 16, alongside 18 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women aged 45 to 54.
Among those aged 35 to 44, 21 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women first had sex under 16.
Published by the NHS Information Centre, the report found that one in 10 young people aged 16 to 24 have had 10 or more sexual partners.
But more than a quarter of women and almost a third of men aged 16 to 24 said they have never had sex.