The AP news service published an article today that is fascinating to think about. AP pointed to statistics that show women in their twenties have put off having children. Instead the average time for having children has crept into the late thirties and forties. In the grand scheme of things, why is this happening?
Wouldn’t our evolutionary processes prevail, that is, becoming pregnant as hormones and independence from parents become active? Mariner’s mother, certainly poor by any comparison, gave birth to him at the age of sixteen and his brother at age twenty. What has caused this move to not have children until the thirties and forties?
The statistics from AP: Fertility rates declined by almost 43% for women between ages 20 and 24 and by more than 22% for women between 25 and 29. At the same time, they increased by more than 67% for women between 35 and 39, and by more than 132% for women between 40 and 44, according to the Census Bureau analysis based on National Center for Health Statistics data.
Direct influences are related to finances. The importance of careers for women as security against uncertain times is obvious. In a related statistic, there is pressure for a financially stable household to be a two-income family. Who pays for childcare and related overhead for children while both parents work? Young families are forced to be practical and wait for more secure times before having a family. Yet, in mariner’s mind, his mother had no financial security but was not influenced to wait for better times; he wonders what is different today?
Another direct influence is pharmaceutical advances in birth control, something that was not available to his mother. Even with the advantage of birth control, why has the shift been so absolute? The statistics suggest that birth control made it easier to pursue a general conclusion to have children later.
Is the shift because Homo sapiens has become a four generation creature? Does this extra generation, largely not financially self-sufficient, add to the intuitive burden of their children?
Is this shift because Homo sapiens no longer has direct habitat-dependent requirements that lend themselves to tribal (extended family) society?
Is it because farming economy no longer is a slow, multi-generational experience that launches the process of gross domestic product?
Is it because modern technology has expanded the awareness of young people to a larger, more complex world?
How is this delay in building families related to falling populations in every industrialized nation? Is industrialized life too rapid and short-funded to allow for a society based on family-centric value?
From a broader perspective, do the planet’s rapidly shrinking resources cause an unconscious awareness that there isn’t enough to go around anymore?
Give this subject some thought. It’s certainly better than the general angst provided by cable news.