Interesting story by Sue Shellenbarger in her Wall Street Journal online Work & Family column titled “No Waiting: Younger Women Are Saying Yes to Motherhood.”
The column adds perspective to a guest commentary by Ellen Galinsky that we posted on this blog, “Candace Parker and Work Life Balance.”
For nearly 40 years, women have been delaying childbirth longer and longer, partly to launch careers. Now, this trend may be ending.
For the first time since government records have been kept, the average age at which women have their first babies posted a decline — according to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Mothers’ mean age at their first childbirth fell to 25.0 years in 2006, the most recent figures available, from 25.2 in 2005. Women ages 20 to 24 led the shift, with a 5% increase in the rate of first births.
A one-year reversal doesn’t make a trend, of course. But the study lends weight to anecdotal evidence that young women are tuning in more closely to their biological clocks. “It’s the first time it’s ever gone down, and certainly that’s noteworthy,” says Brady Hamilton, co-author of the study.
The story — whether speaking to a trend or not — certainly puts another focus on the balance between work and life from both a business and public policy perspective.