Fewer U.S. women have children, more waiting later for motherhood

by Will Hall, |
TV personality Kim Kardashian holds her daughter North in her arms as she shops in Paris May 20, 2014. The 34-year-old U.S. television personality is among a growing number of women in their 30s and 40s who are having children. | REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- Recently released Census data shows fewer women in the United States have children, with almost half (47.6 percent) of 15-44 year-olds childless, a 1.2 percent jump from two years ago.

However, the snapshot of U.S. women from 2014 showed a generational shift that in some ways is encouraging:

-- Fewer 15-19 year-olds are mothers than ever before, with 95.6 childless last year (a 2.6 percent change during the last 10 years) -- a sign teen pregnancy is abating.

-- Likewise, fewer women who are approaching the end of child-bearing age were childless, 15.3 percent (a 4 percent change in 10 years), meaning that more 40-44 year olds were mothers than have been in a decade and that families are still important.

-- Importantly, fewer in the 40-44 year-old age group were childless (15.3 percent) than those who were 44-50 years old (16.7 percent), suggesting motherhood is not dying but just being delayed more than in previous generations.

This delay in childbearing is confirmed by comparing other 2014 data with information from 2004:

-- Ten years ago, 93.3 percent of 15-19 year-olds reported childlessness, but now as 25-29 year olds only 49.6 percent do not have children.

-- During this same timeframe, 68.9 percent of women who were 20-24 years old had not yet had children, but as 30-34 year-olds only 28.9 percent still were not mothers (a 40 percent change).

-- Finally, 44.2 percent of 25-29 year olds in 2004 were childless and ten years later only 18.5 percent in the cohort of 35-39 year olds reported no children.

The Census Bureau did not offer any explanation for this demographic shift regarding motherhood.

However, a Wall Street Journal report suggested one cause was the juggling of work and family, citing data that "women aged 40 to 50 years who were in managerial or professional occupations were more likely to be childless than women of similar age in other occupations."