Today’s moms are older, more educated

With Mother’s Day barely in the rearview mirror, a new report delivers a profile of today’s mothers. Moms today are older, more educated, and more likely to be single than they were in 1990.

The average age of a first-time mom is now 25, a year older than it was in 1990, but the birth rate of women over 35 continues to grow.

-23

Percent drop in births by first-time moms under 20. Teen moms now account for only 10 percent of births, compared to 13 percent in 1990.

+55

Percent increase in first-time moms over 35. Women over 35 now account for 14 percent of births, compared to 9 percent in 1990.

-18

Percent drop in births to married women, who now account for 59 percent of births, compared to 72 percent in 1990.

+46

Percent increase in births to unmarried women. Single women now account for 41 percent of births, compared to 28 percent in 1990.

All interesting enough. But flip past the top sheet and it gets more interesting. Other notable points:

  • The latest victim of the Great Recession? The birth rate, which started to decline in 2008 after rising to its highest rate in two decades. While common sense says that with expendable entertainment dollars scarcer and scarcer, free (ahem) forms of amusement might pick up. But it would appear that Americans can put long-term interests ahead of more immediate ones. Of the 10 states with the biggest drop in 2008 births, eight are among the top 10 hardest hit by falling income and housing prices.
  • Most of you still think children are bundles of joy. Well, at least half. The Pew report asked parents why they had kids: “[F]or the overwhelming majority, the answer is, ‘the joy of having children.’ However, a half century after the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of birth control pills, nearly half of parents say “there wasn’t a reason; it just happened.” So that earlier point about long-term interests…
  • Americans are ever so slightly more approving of non-traditional family trends, most notably the rise in fertility treatments and births outside of marriage.
  • Most Americans still say two kids is the ideal number, just as they have in every study since the 1970s. The verdict is still out on the picket fence.
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