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The first-born birth rate of young women declining

Increasing more young women are choosing to have kids later in life

Sohnia Mutter (middle), and friends enjoy drinks and a game of cards on the weekend, something they may not be able to do with children. Photo by Nick Valka
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Reported by Nick Valka 

Rising costs of living, paired with more potential career opportunities, are just two of the reasons why millennial women are choosing to delay the birth of their first child.

According to Statistics Canada, women aged 30 to 34 account for nearly 30 per cent of first-born births, which is up about 10 per cent from the last decade. Simultaneously, the first-born birth rate of women aged 20 to 24 decreased from nearly 26 per cent to 18 per cent.

Career first, kids second

Barbara Mitchell, a sociology professor at SFU who specializes in the social and demographic aspects of family, believes that young women are choosing to invest in their careers and schooling rather than starting families.

“Young people are growing in very different social and economic times than previous generations,” Mitchell said. “It’s very expensive to have children, especially if you’re living in a major urban area like Metro Vancouver. It’s not that surprising that we’re seeing these averages go up all the time.”

Sohnia Mutter is a 24-year-old Vancouverite who doesn’t want children and instead has her eyes solely focused on furthering her career.

“The social pressure to have children is based off of traditional views,” Mutter said. “Our generation carries more debt on our shoulders, making having a family simply unaffordable.”

Waiting longer to have kids

Marlo Muscutt, owner of Bunky Bambino, has been a practicing doula for over 15 years and the bulk of her clients are over 35, with one of her clients last year being 47 when having her first-born. As a doula, Muscutt assists women from prenatal to postnatal, providing support and assistance. She feels that priorities have shifted from previous generations, finding that many women find it more important to be financially secure, own a home and have double incomes before considering having children.

Medical advancements also now allow women to bear children at an older age.

“Women now have the option of fertility treatments,” Muscutt said. “I think because they know that they don’t worry so much about the biological clocks that everyone talks about.”

 

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