The number of women having children under the age of 30 is at a record low

Bodyclock, Mothers under 30 record low
(Image credit: Getty)

The number of women becoming mothers under the age of 30 is at a record low as more ladies are choosing to delay motherhood for various reasons.

For the first time ever in 2020, half of the women in England and Wales have decided not to have a baby by their 30th birthday, according to official figures.

Statistics collected by the Office for National Statistics released this week show that 50.1% of women born in 1990 didn't have a baby by the time they turned 30 - making them the first cohort where half have not had a child by that age since records began in 1920.

In comparison, 57% of women born in 1970 had become a mother by the time they reached the age of 30. - with 76% of those were born in 1950.

Around 82% of the women who were most likely to have had at least one baby by that age were born in 1941.

Amanda Sharfman, an ONS statistician, explained the changing culture towards early motherhood. She 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% for women born in 1941.

“Lower levels of fertility in those currently in their 20s indicate that this trend is likely to continue," she added.

But there are thought to be a lot of contributing factors that are putting off women from starting a family in their younger years - blaming affordable housing, the cost of living, and rising childcare costs as possible drivers behind the trend.

One Twitter user commented, 'Cost of living is so high now (especially real estate) that a lot of people can’t support kids and lead a comfortable lifestyle. It’s not a simplistic issue.'

And a second user tweeted, 'My ultimate goal in life is to have children and be good fathers, but I know so many people my age who hate the idea of having children. Where does all this hate come from?'

A third Twitter user pointed out, 'That is a sad state of affairs. While accepting it is the right of women when and if they wish to have children, our society would greatly benefit if we could support women to have children when they are younger (if they choose to). Free child care for all would be a start.'

Mothers under 30 record low

Meanwhile, the ONS report also found that 18% of women aged 45 in 2020 were at "the end of their childbearing years" and never had children. -a figure that has stayed fairly consistent since the late 1950s, suggesting that women are simply choosing to delay having kids rather than not having them at all.

For women born in 1975 the most common age to give birth was 31 - compared to 22 for the previous generation.

Only time will tell if lockdown has had caused a baby boom among women.

Below you can watch a clip of One Born Every Minute which looks at having children later in life...

Having not found the right partner is possibly another factor stopping women from falling pregnant earlier contributing to mothers under 30 being at a record low.

Women of their grandmother’s generation born in the 1920s tended to have children later at age 26, possibly because of the Second World War.

Ms Sharfman added, “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.”

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)