Last week a new Census Bureau report on fertility showed that 20 percent of women 40 to 44 were childless in 2006, twice as high as the level 30 years earlier.
Among other highlights, the report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, found:
- The majority of women with a recent birth (57 percent) were in the labor force.
- Of the 4.2 million women who had a birth in the previous 12 months, 36 percent were separated, widowed, divorced or never married at the time of the survey. Of these 1.5 million unmarried mothers, 190,000 were living with an unmarried partner.
- Second generation Hispanic women tend to have lower fertility rates than either foreign-born Hispanics or those who were third generation (i.e., native and of native parents).
- The highest levels of current fertility (67 births in the year prior to the survey per 1,000 women) were among those with a graduate or professional degree.
This report shows a great deal of variation among states in the characteristics of mothers who had given birth in the previous year. Such mothers, for instance, in the District of Columbia, Mississippi and North Carolina were the most likely to have never married. In addition, recent mothers in California were the most apt to be foreign-born, while those in Mississippi were the likeliest to be poor.
The report also finds that the national birth rate for women age 15 to 50 receiving public assistance in 2006 was about three times of those not receiving public assistance. A decade after the passage of welfare reform in 1996, data show that women in this age range receiving public assistance had a birth rate of 155 births per 1,000 women, compared with 53 births per 1,000 women not receiving it.
I was born in a generation whose mothers stayed home and raised their kids. PTA meetings were held during the day and dinner was made and eaten at home. Thanks to the ‘Women’s Liberation’ movement in the 1970’s mom’s realized that they could have their own spending money and even feel important to society by working. Those mom’s wanted to teach their daughters that they can do it all. We were the first generation who was told that you can have a career and a family.
We are now in our midlife and what has this push taught us?
Maybe we cannot have it all. Maybe some of us feel insecure about becoming as good of a parent as our stay at home mothers.
They say that society often repeats itself and cycles. It will be interesting to see what my teenage daughter’s generation does. The question will still remain- do I focus on career or family?