Women Are Having Kids Later Than Ever — Here's Why That May Be A Good Thing

Photographed by Grace Willis.
New mothers' ages are at an all-time high across the country, and across racial and ethnic groups. In a report released today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a major finding — the average age of first-time mothers in the United States is now 26 or older. In New York and Connecticut, this average was closer to 28, while women in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts, are waiting until 29, on average, to have a child. West Coast states (California, Washington, and Oregon) saw an age increase of nearly two years since 2009.

While having a child much later in life requires some additional care, the reasons why women are choosing to wait to get pregnant are, essentially, all good. For one thing, a higher average age for first-time moms suggests that fewer teens are having unwanted pregnancies — thanks, in part, to wider use and availability of birth control. Young women also seem to be taking more precautions against unwanted pregnancies because the cost of having a baby is just too high for most millennial women.

Additionally, more and more women choose to enroll in college and join the workforce before having children or even getting married (the average woman gets married at 27). Between 1994 and 2012, the percentage of female high school graduates who attended college the following fall rose from 63% to 71%. By comparison, the percentage of men in attendance remained the same at 61%. 11.5 million women were projected to enroll in college in 2015, and that number is only expected to rise.

Beyond academia, women account for 40% of the worldwide workforce, and hold 50% of middle management positions. Simply put, their immediate goals are continuing to shift toward personal success and security, prior to starting a family. And while we're pretty much in awe of all moms — and know that they can be happy, successful, and fulfilled regardless of their age, education, or work status when they have their first kid — we love the idea that women have more options and flexibility than ever.

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