Women in San Francisco Have Kids 10 Years Later Than Women in Rural Texas

Women in San Francisco Have Kids 10 Years Later Than Women in Rural Texas

Behold a telling infographic called “The Age That Women Have Babies: How a Gap Divides America.”

While the average age of first childbirth is still 26, that’s a median between two extremes.

College educated women in San Francisco are an average of 32 at first birth.

Women in Zapata County, TX are 21.

Think that may make a difference in the arc of their lives?

  “The difference in when women start families cuts along many of the same lines that divide the country in other ways, and the biggest one is education. Women with college degrees have children an average of seven years later than those without – and often use the years in between to finish school and build their careers and incomes.

People with a higher socioeconomic status “just have more potential things they could do instead of being a parent, like going to college or grad school and having a fulfilling career,” said Heather Rackin, a sociologist at Louisiana State University who studies fertility. “Lower-socioeconomic-status people might not have as many opportunity costs – and motherhood has these benefits of emotional fulfillment, status in their community and a path to becoming an adult.”

There has long been an age gap for first-time mothers, which has narrowed a bit in recent years, driven largely by fewer teenage births, Ms. Myers said. Yet the gap may be more meaningful today. Researchers say the differences in when women start families are a symptom of the nation’s inequality — and as moving up the economic ladder has become harder, mothers’ circumstances could have a bigger effect on their children’s futures.”

To be clear, it’s not all roses for urban, educated women.

“The wage penalty for women who have children is high, so many try to advance in their careers before giving birth…They’re also less likely to  live near their children’s grandparents or because their parents are older, they juggle child care with elder care. And they might have fewer children  than they hoped, because fertility declines during a woman’s 30s.”

Women who have kids at a younger age have the advantage of being healthier, more fertile and near their parents

On the other hand, women who have kids at a younger age have the advantage of being healthier, more fertile and near their parents — but they also have less education and income, and a full 75% of women who have kids before 25 have them out of wedlock.

There’s no one “right” way to plan a family, but I do think that there are more effective ways of dating that are more likely to yield optimal results.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1

    Beyond the income gap, there is also a life stage gap. People often seek out those they ‘can relate to’ in both friendships and potential partnerships.

    In middle age especially, these life stage gaps can be perceived as problematic. If one is an empty nester, or soon will be…do they want to get involved with someone who is still dealing with getting a sitter to go out, child support, custody/visitation, school/college fees, and kid and/or ex drama? Or the person who wants a child(ren) of their own when they themselves don’t want to start all over from infancy on?  And then there are folks who have children with different partners and their children may end up being nearly a generation apart.



  2. 2

    I think part of the equation (other than everything listed above) is also in what these women see as they grow up. They’re doing the same thing their mothers, grandmothers, etc. have done, and don’t really see any other options.

    My parents, for example, had me and my sister in their early and mid thirties. And a lot of people around us did as well. And while a good age to have children was never really discussed, to me that seemed “normal”.

    I was absolutely shocked when I came to the US, and there was such a big issue made out of women having children in their thirties. My mindset from the way I grew up was that that’s what people do. Get married, establish a career, buy a house, make sure you can pay for it, live your life a little and do the things you want to do…THEN have children. Most likely in your thirties.

    It’s not something my parents taught me, it’s what everyone around us did.

    We also did not have a strict religious upbringing which tends to further push the “family and children” pressure.

    I think women in poverty, as well as women with strong religious backgrounds tends to imitate what they know and see around them. Parents can certainly influence this, but overall, what a person considers more “normal” is likely what they’ll end up doing themselves.

  3. 3

    My first comment on this site but this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I graduated from a top college and had a baby out of wedlock at 23. It was extremely difficult because I was not in a stable situation and had barely started my career. But looking back, I have no regrets. I was lost then and having my son stabilized me. It gave me purpose while I was still trying to figure out my life. I am now 31 with an 8-year-old, have an amazing partnership with my fiance, and make over six figures at my job. In the last few years, I’ve lived in both large cities and rural areas. I was always the youngest mom. Looking back, I can’t say there are easy answers for a woman. Sometimes I get really frustrated at my job and wish I had spent the first few years out of college working on my career like everyone else. I feel like I pay a motherhood penalty at work and am always trying to catch up. Other days, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was super healthy when I had my son and my body bounced back quickly. I had energy to be a very hards-on mom and I wasn’t set enough in my ways for my son to be an inconvenience. So I don’t know. Having a baby is hard at 23 and it’s hard at 33.

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