NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 20, 2008

Women are waiting longer to have children, and more women than ever are choosing not to have children at all, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Other findings:

  • Some 20 percent of women ages 40 to 44 have no children, double the level of 30 years ago.
  • Women in that age bracket who do have children have fewer than ever -- an average of 1.9 children, compared with the median of 3.1 children in 1976.

"A lot of women are not having any children," said Jane Lawler Dye, a Census Bureau researcher who did the report, which looked at women of childbearing age in 2006.  "It used to be sort of expected that there was a phase of life where you had children, and a lot of women aren't doing that now," Dye said.

Women with advanced degrees are more likely to be childless, the study found:

  • Of women 40 to 44 with graduate or professional degrees, 27 percent are childless.
  • Among women who did not continue their education beyond high school, only 18 percent are childless.

Hispanic women are the only group bucking the trends found in the study, averaging 2.3 children each by their 40s.  The number of children a Hispanic woman has decreased sharply, however, depending on how many generations her family has lived in the United States, the data show.

Source: Katie Zezima, "More Women Than Ever Are Childless, Census Finds," New York Times, August 19, 2008.

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