Posted on August 21, 2008

More Women Are Having Fewer Children, If At All

AP, August 19, 2008

More women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, 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. {snip}

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Unemployed women had about twice as many babies as working women, although women in the labor force accounted for the majority—57 percent—of recent births. Only a quarter of all women who had a child over the past year were living below the poverty level.

Coupled with fertility data collected biannually, the report also revealed longer term trends, including how second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers.


[Editor’s Note: “Fertility of American Women, 2006” can be downloaded, together with tables, here.]


MONDAY, AUG. 18, 2008

* Robert Bernstein

* Public Information Office

* 301-763-3030/763-3762 (phone/fax)

* e-mail:

* CB08-125

* Broadcast release [PDF]

* Detailed tables

A new Census Bureau report on fertility shows 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.

The report is the first from the Census Bureau on this topic to use data from the American Community Survey, resulting in state-by-state comparisons of fertility characteristics. Data from the Current Population Survey are also included in the report, permitting historical comparisons of levels of childlessness and births.

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.


These data were collected from the 2006 American Community Survey and Fertility Supplement to the June 2006 Current Population Survey. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For further information on the source of the CPS data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to Attachment 16 of . For the source and accuracy of the American Community Survey go to .