Tuesday, August 19, 2008

U.S. Women Having Fewer Children By Early 40s--And 20% Are Having No Children at All

Those of us convinced that reining in global population is key to reining in global warming and other assaults on the planet's resources can find some encouragement in a report just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Associated Press and MSNBC say the report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, shows that 20% of U.S. women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before. It appears that some people are in fact being conscientious about parenting.

The news coverage says the report is "the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns."

The survey found that in the last 30 years the number of women age 40-44 with no children has doubled from 10% to 20%, and women in that age range who are having children are having one child less than their counterparts in 1976.

There was one cloud with this silver lining. Although 57% of the births were among women in the labor force, unemployed women were having about twice as many babies as the employed--suggesting the mothers may face economic obstacles to raising their offspring. Still, only 25% of the women who gave birth were living below the official poverty level.

Given the fact that populations with roots in the Global South tend to see children as important to perpetuating their families and cultures, it was interesting that second generation Hispanic U.S. women were having fewer babies than their first-generation U.S. mothers or their foreign-born grandmothers. Of course, states with more recent immigrants (legal and illegal) saw more births among the immigrant populations than other states.

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