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Monday, 28 January 2008

Random Research

According to the UK Office of National Statistics in 1996 mothers over 35 years of age 14,952 had their first child and in 2001 there were 27,468 mothers who had their first child over the age of 35 with the total number of women having a first child remaining relatively consistent. Fertility rates reveal that between 2001 and 2004 the number of births per 1,000 women increased from 669,100 to 716,000. Over the past 30 years birth rates have increased for women aged 30-40 while they have fallen for younger women

A report from Finland ‘Trends in Social Protection in Finland 2004’ stated that

‘There is also an increasing number of women who remain childless. At the moment, 15 percent of middle-aged women are childless. In the future this figure is expected to rise to 20 percent. Childlessness is most common among highly educated women.’

At a recent European summit on population and family policies across the European Union, Joakim Palme, Director, Institute for Future Studies, Stockholm, described the findings of their recent report: Sustainable policies in an ageing Europe: modernising family polices. This analysed social trends in Europe: an ageing society, declining marriage, fertility and birth rates, and an increased female labour force.

Mr Palme said that if the European social model was to be sustainable, policy-makers needed to make wide-ranging reforms to current social protection systems and fine-tune the relationship between encouraging higher birth rates, improving Europe’s skills base and increasing the labour supply to enlarge the future tax base.

Education plays an important role, as building up Europe’s “human capital” (i.e. a highly-skilled work force) will increase GDP per capita growth, providing revenue to care for an ageing population.

However, the study also found that, in some Member States, prolonging education reduced fertility levels as women delayed having children to continue their studies and some then decided not to have children at all because of the negative impact this would have on their employment opportunities.


Flowerpot said...

well I don;t know that I count as highly qualified as I didnt go to university - mine was more life chances.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Some people desperately want children and are blessed with them. Some don't want them and remain happily child-free. Some want them and are never able to conceive or bear children for one reason or another. Some don't want them but easily fall pregnant. Being a parent is a huge commitment but also hugely fulfilling. But others find fulfillment in other ways. If anyone is lucky or smart enough to have their life choices fulfilled, then all the better. And all the better those who are able to cope with what life has given them.

decided said...

In Western countries women have been accepted as separate entities to their fathers and husbands. They have the right to vote, become educated, and the ability to choose a career and be financially independent. These societies have also accepted scientific advancements that allow women the freedom to choose when or if they want to have children.

It does not surprise me that these freedoms are affecting the average age at which women are starting to consider becoming mothers. Women are finding fulfilment in wildly varying ways, which means that having a child is not a foregone conclusion.

decided said...

In general I like social policies that ensure that there is not a huge gulf between upper and lower class people. I’m not against using taxes to ensure that things like health care and education can be offered to everybody, not just those with money. If there are people suffering, and there is money available to distribute to them, I am happy for them to have it, and I hope it helps them.

But – I am not likely to ever agree with social policies that just aim to encourage higher birth rates:

a) It would appear that birth rates would increase if women’s education was lowered, but I would fight against any policy that deliberately aimed to lower any group’s average education levels.

b) I also don’t think that women should be given any incentives to have children. This practice would encourage women to have a child even if they are not ready to be a mother, which is not good for the child! On a wider level, I find policies like this reprehensible because they promote motherhood as being better than the other options that are available to women.

Expatmum said...

Hi there - happened upon your blog which I find fascinating. Being an ex-professional, university and masters degree holder, I am still finding that with me and most of my friends, we didn't sit down and "make" a decision about when or if, to have children. I didn't meet the man I wanted to marry till I was 26, and didn't marry till 28. (Not old I know). Had two children at 31 and 34, then thought I was finished. had my "bonus baby" at 41, which changes your life plans, such as they can be, yet again.
One thing I have seen is that the friends I have who took the decision to wait to have children, even if they married young, all had problems and agonies conceiving.

Beth said...

Hi Expat Mom - I've noticed there tends to be a divide between people who have always assumed they would have kids (and therefore never saw it as a decision) and people who do see it as a decision that needs to be made. More and more women I think are seeing it as a decision and there are increasing amounts of people deciding to be childfree which points to this. Also, as patterns of relationships change, alot of women aren't in a relationship with a life partner till later in life - which often means they do have decide whether to have kids or leave it. A friend of mine is 44 and has been single for a decade. Now she is in a relationship with a nice bloke, they are talking about maybe having children. But for her, she is aware how difficult it will be and doesn't want to spoil what could be a lovely new relationship with the anxiety about trying to have a baby.