This segment of the population highlights a growing trend among women of childbearing age – age 15 to 44 – who are choosing not to have children, up to 44% of all women in that range. At the same time, women on average are have fewer children, down to 1.9 children in 2002, considerably fewer than the 1976 average of 3.1 children, according to the Fertility of American Women: June 2002 report released by the US Census Bureau.
Much of the speculation is that women are putting off childbirth to advance their careers. Seventy-one percent of these childless women participated in the labor force. Further, women who live in metropolitan areas and who are affluent are more likely to be childless. More than 47% of women who make more than $75,000 a year have no children, while 40% of those who make less than $20,000 are childfree.
The report also suggests that women who do have children may be reconsidering juggling work and family. During the four-year period 1994-1998, the overall labor force participation rate of mothers with infant children – children younger than one – increased to 59% from 53%. This was up significantly from only 31% of women in the workforce who said they had a child within the past year in 1976. Further, those women with children one year old and older were in the labor force at an even higher rate (72%). Among mothers with infants, 61% of those 30 and older were in the labor force compared with 39% of those ages 15 to 19.
The report can be accessed at http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-548.pdf .