The childless generation

By Emily Allen

One in five women aged 45 is now childless putting childlessness for women born in 1965 at a 45-year-high. Photo / Thinkstock
One in five women aged 45 is now childless putting childlessness for women born in 1965 at a 45-year-high. Photo / Thinkstock

One in five women aged 45 has no children, new figures show, putting childlessness for women born in 1965 at a 45-year-high.

A fifth of women born in the mid 1960s remain childless by the end of their childbearing years, considered to be 45-years-old, compared with one in nine women born in 1938.

Reasons for this drop include falling numbers of women choosing to walk down the aisle, changes in the perceived cost and benefits of bringing up children, and greater social acceptability of a child-free lifestyle.

Some women also leave decisions about starting a family too late, the Office of National Statistics said.

However, researchers believe this won't always be the case. They are predicting that when women born in 1980 finish having children, much fewer will be childless.

At the moment 20 per cent of 45-year-olds have no offspring and they are predicting this will fall to 14 per cent.

The ONS statistics also showed that for women born in 1938 and 1945 two children was the most common family size.

Meanwhile, one in 10 45-year-old women in 2010, when the information was collated, had four or more children, compared with one in five women born in 1938.

According to the figures, women born in the 1960s and 1970s had fewer children by age 30 than previous generations as more and more opted into higher eduction, delayed marriage and established careers.

Those born in 1965 had 1.18 children on average by their 30th birthday, compared with 1.86 for women born in 1938.

And those women born in 1980 had 1.03 children on average by their 30th.

Future projections suggest that the percentage of women having just one child will rise from 13 per cent among women born in 1965 to 18 per cent for these born in 1970 and 1975.

Experts expect it to stabilise after this point at 17 per cent, the ONS report, covering England and Wales, said.

Louise Silverton, the Royal College of Midwives' deputy general secretary, said: 'This data shows that the age profile of pregnant women is getting older.

'Previous data has shown that between 2001 and 2010 the number of births to women aged 40 or over rose by 71 per cent.

'This ageing of mothers means greater demands on maternity services as pregnancies to older women can give rise to complications and a need for medical interventions, which demands more of midwives and others in the maternity team.

'As the number of births is now at an historic high, this, together with the increasing social complexity of care needs for all mothers, has a multiplying effect on the workload heaped on already overstretched midwives.'

Last month, it was revealed the number of women having multiple births due to IVF has risen dramatically in a decade.

The ONS said there were 15.7 multiple births per 1,000 women in 2010 - a rise of 6.8 per cent since 2000.

IVF treatment is a major contributor to the multiple pregnancy and multiple birth rate.

This has also led to a woman having an average of two children each - the highest fertility rate since 1973.

On average, one in four IVF pregnancies results in either twins or triplets, compared with one in 80 where the baby is conceived naturally.

- DAILY MAIL

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