This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Age at First Birth is Steadily Rising

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that data from the Current Population Survey show that the age at marriage in the United States has been been steadily rising. This week a closely related analysis shows that the age at first birth has also been going up. Indeed, between 1970 and 2017 it went from 21.4 years to 26.8 years. These data were put together by Karen Guzzo and Krista Payne at Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family & Marriage Research. 

The results are especially interesting because they show that there are clear geographic differences in the delay in first birth. Thus, while the age at first birth has been going up everywhere, it is going up much more in some states than in others, as you can see in the map below.

The increases have been greatest along the west coast and in the northeast. Two southern states--Arkansas and Mississippi--share the honors of having the lowest age at first birth in both 1970 and 2017. By contrast, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey were all consistently at the older ages with respect to first births in both 1970 and 2017. However, in 1970 the difference between the youngest and oldest was considerably less (22.5 - 20.2 = 2.3) than it was in 2017 (29.7 - 24.1 = 5.6). 

These results suggest yet another way in which the population of the United States is growing more diverse, since the differences in delaying the first birth are both a cause and a consequence of a wide array of changes that are taking place all over the country. 

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