The CDC released its annual report of birth and death rates for the year 2016 and, as Millennials grow to parenting age, they're causing a new shift in birth rates. Findings revealed that women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s for the first time ever. While the average age women first give birth is still 28 years old, researchers credit a steady decrease in teen pregnancy and women intentionally postponing pregnancy with the change.
In 2016, women ages 30 to 34 had a birth rate of about 103 births per 1,000 women. Women ages 25 to 29 had about 102 births per 1,000 women. This marks the first time the over-30 set has ever edged out its younger counterparts. Teen birth rates continue to decline, which in turn, lowers probability for a second pregnancy among those teens once they hit their 20s. Overall, the birth rate also dropped slightly in 2016 to 62 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 44.
According to the report:
Of course, this also points to the general economic instability Millennials face and the ways in which it messes with our ability to give birth when it's least medically risky. With the ubiquity of IUDs and other accessible, effective birth control options, Millennials have more control than ever over family planning. However, waiting until they're financially stable and career secure to have children often pushes them deep into their 30s before they can start having kids, if they so choose. As Jezebel points out, any pregnancy that occurs over the age of 35 is considered, in medical terms, a "geriatric pregnancy," which is demoralizing enough, without the added fertility struggles, increased miscarriage risks, and poorer egg quality that come along with the 35-year mark.
Doctors love to warn against the hazards of waiting too long to pursue egg-freezing or child birth, but the reality is that without social structures in place to empower women to have children at younger ages — without tanking their careers or their earning potential — our current workforce and career culture don't give them much choice.