For the first time in England and Wales, more women remained childless by 30 than those who became mothers, official figures show.
According to a new analysis released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 50.1 percent of women who turned 30 in 2020 (born in 1990) did not have any children by their 30th birthday.
This is the first year group among which half remain childless by 30 years of age since the record began in 1920, the ONS said in the annual report, which analyzed data from 2020.
An ONS statistician said the trend is likely to continue given the low levels of fertility in those currently in their 20s.
Of women who turned 45 in 2020 (born in 1975) and presumably completed their childbearing years, 18 percent remained childless, 13 percent up from the percentages among their mothers’ generation (assumed to be 26 years their senior based on the standardised mean age of a mother in 1975 of 26.4 years).
But this proportion has stayed fairly consistent since the late 1950s, suggesting that women have been delaying childbearing rather than not having children, the ONS said.
Around 17 percent of women who turned 45 in 2020 only had one child, also 13 percent up compared to their mothers’ generation.
Among this group, the most common age to have their first child was 31 years, nine years later than their mothers’ generation; and the average number of children was 1.92, unchanged from the previous year and down from the number for their mothers’ generation (2.08).
Two-child families remain the most common family size, with 37 percent of the cohort having two children, compared to 44 percent in their mother’s generation.
Amanda Sharfman, an ONS statistician, said: “We continue to see a delay in childbearing, with women born in 1990 becoming the first cohort where half of the women remain childless by their 30th birthday.
“Levels of childlessness by age 30 have been steadily rising since a low of 18 [percent] for women born in 1941.
“Lower levels of fertility in those currently in their 20s indicate that this trend is likely to continue.”
Social media users commenting on the ONS report pointed to a lack of affordable housing, the cost of living, and childcare costs as possible drivers behind the trend.
Sharfman said: “The average number of children born to a woman has been below two for women born since the late 1950s.
“While two-child families are still the most common, women who have recently completed their childbearing are more likely than their mothers’ generation to have only one child or none at all.”
PA contributed to this report.