Clock ticking? People having children later

(Photo: Gölin Doorneweerd-Swijnenburg)

Women are having children earlier than men, but we're all delaying parenthood, a new survey has found.

According to the results of the survey, young women are more likely than young men to be parents. Almost a quarter (24%) of adult women younger than 30 had their first child before they turned 21, compared with only 10% of men.

Over a third (38%) of females aged between 18 and 29 had at least one child, while the number of fathers in the same age group was much lower, at 26%.

The figures were compiled in a report by US research group Gallup, who interviewed 5,100 adults in a national survey.

They discovered a significant difference in the ages that the average man and woman become parents and the supposed 'ideal' age for each gender. According to those questioned, 25 is the ideal age for a woman to have a child, while 27 is considered to be the best age for a man.

The figures show that while there is a sizeable difference in the number of women and men aged 18 to 29 who have a child, that percentage decreases in older generations, almost disappearing among seniors, indicating that the gender age gap in having a child has widened in recent years.

However, the survey also highlights an overall shift toward delaying parenthood. Two-thirds of women aged 30 to 49 had their first child before the age of 30, in comparison to 73% of those aged 50 to 64 and 84% of those 65 and older.

The trend is also apparent with men; with the statistics reading 55%, 61% and 77% respectively.

Gallup suggests factors that may have contributed to this delayed parenthood include houses being more expensive, school and university fees increasing, and changing attitudes, with many would-be parents choosing to enjoy some time to themselves before settling down and having kids.