Is the age at which British women are having babies changing?

Over 40s now having more babies than under 20s…

Age-specific fertility rates, 1981 to 2015, England and Wales

In 2015, fertility rates decreased for women in all age groups under 25, and increased for all age groups 30 and over compared with 2014. The fertility rate for women aged 25 to 29 remained unchanged.

The largest percentage decrease in fertility rates was for women aged under 20 (7.1%); fertility has generally declined for the under 20s since 1999.

The largest percentage increase in fertility rates was for women aged 40 and over (3.4%); this rate has more than trebled since 1981. In 2015, the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over rose above the rate for women aged under 20.

Women aged 30 to 34 have had the highest fertility of any age group since 2004, prior to this women aged 25 to 29 had the highest fertility.

Births in England and Wales: 2015, Live births, stillbirths, and the intensity of childbearing measured by the total fertility rate,, 13 July 2016.

Changes in age-specific fertility rates impact on the total fertility rate (TFR). The TFR decreased in 2015, compared with 2014, despite a small rise in the number of live births. The rise in births was due to an increase in births to women aged 25 and over; births to younger women decreased. As a result, fertility rates for women aged under 25 declined and rates for women aged 30 and over rose. These changes in fertility rates have generally been driven by larger changes in the number of births, rather than changes in the size of the population. The fall in fertility rates at younger ages outweighed the increase in rates at older ages, hence the overall TFR decreased.

In most developed countries, women have been increasingly delaying childbearing to later in life, which has resulted in rising fertility rates among older women. This may be due to a number of factors such as increased female participation in higher education and the labour force, the increasing importance of a career, the rising costs of childbearing, labour market uncertainty and housing factors.

Rising fertility rates at older ages have affected the average age of mother, which has been increasing since 1975, reaching 30.3 years in 2015.

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