In the 1970’s eight out of ten people were married by 30, comparatively it now takes eight out of ten people until 45 to marry. So says a US Department of Commerce study conducted with young adults between 1975 and 2016. The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood reveals that millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) are postponing parenthood in favour of travel and climbing the corporate ladder.
The trend plays out in South Africa too, with young adults striving for economic security before choosing to have children. While this practical approach may indeed line the nest, many young women are unaware that their fertility starts to dwindle from age 32, with a sharp decline after 37. Results of research by the BBC, revealed that women were on average giving birth to their first child in Greece at 31.2 years old, in Singapore at 29.8, in Japan 30.3 years and so the list goes on.
“It’s not impossible to have a baby later in life,” says Wijnland’s Lizanne van Waart, but many young women are completely unaware of the limits of their infertility.” Lizanne puts this down to the culture of achievement presented to us, with celebrities mothering at 45 and women expected to be a flawless success in every sphere of their lives.
Technology has increased enormously and is thankfully there to assist couples who come to baby time and struggle to conceive but egg freezing and IVF are not fool proof insurance policies when it comes to parenting plans.
Many women are battling to find that perfect moment to parent. The need to remain active and competitive in the workplace can lead to a fear that there is never a right time to drop a gear on the work front. Ironically, a direct benefit of the rise of women in the workplace is that women are achieving leadership roles and can hopefully change policies to allow parents the time they need. Let’s hope a more pro-parenting work culture can cultivate a new generation of parents.