England and Wales: half of women now childless at 30, choosing to delay motherhood

18 March 2022

Half of English and Welsh women born in 1990 – the most recent cohort to reach age 30 – remained childless by their 30th birthday, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

This is the first cohort where half remain childless by 30, an ONS report states. The lowest level of childlessness by age 30 was for those born in 1941, at 17.9%, a figure that has been steadily rising since.

However, the percentage of women who remained childless in 2020 by 45 years old has remained fairly consistent since the late 50s, with 18.1% of the cohort born in 1975 having no children. The report states this suggests women are delaying childbearing rather than not having children.

The most common age for the 1975 cohort to give birth at was 31, an increase compared with their mothers’ generation (born in 1949), when it was 22.

‘While two-child families are still the most common, women who have recently completed childbearing are more likely to have only one child or none at all [17% and 18% respectively] than their mothers’ generation [13%],’ said Amanda Sharfman of the ONS.

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