Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ain't what they used to be

Over the last three decades, US birth rates among women under 25 declined while birth rates among women over 30 increased, dramatically so among women over 40. It's well known that mean maternal age at birth has increased substantially in the West over the last 60 years.

What might not be as widely recognized--I previously wouldn't have guessed as much--is that in 1950 absolute birth rates among American women over the age of 40 were substantially higher than they are among women over the age of 40 today (on the order of 50% greater). This even though a larger percentage of total births today are to old matrons than was the case in the middle of the 20th century.

Even with all the fertility treatment cheats, longer life expectancies, and bodies less battered by previous childbirths that middle-aged women enjoy today over what their grandmothers dealt with, the latter remained more fecund than the former all the way up to menopause.


JayMan said...

Yup. People today have children later and stop sooner. In the past, they had them earlier and stopped later. But there have been massive cyclical changes in fertility patterns in the past 100 years. I wouldn't use the 1950s of representative of "typical" behavior (when, really, there was no such thing).

Audacious Epigone said...

Right, but 1950 roughly corresponds to the last part of the cyclical nature of fertility trends prior to the significant (and permanent?) disruption caused by the introduction of ubiquitous, effective, stigma-free contraceptives.

Dan said...

It seems to me that the plutocrats of the developed world are going to have to start some RealTalk(tm) sooner or later about this. It's inescapable. It all comes down to human capital in the end. Until now, that could be taken for granted, but in many parts of the world, the era of growth is over.

Social conservatives, who have been holding things together on behalf of the country in this all-important area, have been receiving nothing but attacks over the last generation.

Anonymous said...

The real talk is that pretty much every place on the planet needs a one child policy for all but the top 20% who need a two child policy. People would really be happier if they had this situation. The way to get there is to pay the poorest and dumbest 18 year old girls a hefty sum to get sterilized before their first baby, and pay smart women a bonus for each of their two kids. The feminist should like it because it empowers women.