New research via the National Center for Health Statistics shows the U.S. fertility rate is at a record low. With the exception of the over-30 crowd, fewer women across almost all age groups and ethnicities are having babies. While putting off having babies until later has been a growing trend for some time, women would do well, if it's at all possible, to have babies first and focus on their career either simultaneously, or later.
According to the data,"[R]esearchers report that birthrates declined to record lows in all groups under age 30. Among women ages 20 to 24, the decline was 4 percent. For women 25 to 29, the rate fell 2 percent. The decrease in the birthrate among teenagers — 9 percent from 2015 to 2016 — continues a long-term decline: 67 percent since 1991."
The report did find fertility has increased among older women, aged 30 and beyond, particularly in the 40-44 age group. Those women had 4 percent more babies than they did in 2015. Over the last couple decades, more and more women have been putting off bearing children in lieu of focusing on their careers. While the decrease in birthrates among teenagers is certainly a good thing, women and society profit from increased fertility at a younger age.
For starters, a woman's biological clock is very real. Most studies show similar data: women are most fertile from their mid-twenties to their mid-thirties — after that, fertility declines sharply. It's easier to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and care for babies (and toddlers) when you're younger, versus when you're older. While data backs this up, anecdotal experience does too. I'm no OB/GYN but having birthed four babies myself, I can say with certainty it was much easier to recover from having my first son at 25 then it was to have my last son at 32.
Since the fertility window is so small and the career window, in perspective, is so large, why put off the former, which can't wait, for the latter, which can? Modern feminism's laser beam focus on women and careers is largely responsible for this shift, and it ultimately hurts women who actually do want to enjoy motherhood and facilitate careers. A couple years ago, a Pew Research poll found over 60 percent of Americans thought it was best to have a parent home to raise kids for at least their formative years, which is tough to do if a woman has spent over a decade fostering a career, only to feel she wants to (or has to) put that on the back burner to raise children.
Far better for families and society for women who want to have children, to do so during her prime fertile window, then at the same time, or when the children are a bit older, develop a career — Pew also found part-time work is ideal — to balance along with her family.
Some ultra-feminists may find even this notion of balance infuriating. But rather than be offended, women who take on more responsibilities at home view it as a privilege: Someone has to raise the kids. Why shouldn't it be mom? Do moms really think, at the end of their lives, they'll wish they worked more and spent less time with their kids?
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog.
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