Getting married and having 2.4 children used to be on the must-do list for many women, but not necessarily today because statistics have revealed that British women are having fewer children than ever before.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average number of children born to a woman who turned 45 in 2016 is 1.90. That’s down from 2.21 from their mothers’ generation.
What’s more the number of women over 45 with no children has grown to 18%, compared to just 11% for the previous generation.
The number of teenage mums is also dropping, with just 6% of women having at least one child before their 20th birthday.
The ONS also found that nearly half (44%) of women don’t have any children by the time they turn 30.
The figures, collected from birth registration data going back to the 1930s, defined 45 as the age by which most women had stopped having children.
They show that the average family size in England and Wales peaked for women born in 1935 and has been falling ever since.
Emily Knipe from the ONS population statistics division said that one of the main contributors to falling family size was women making a conscious decision not to have children.
“It’s not just a biological factor of people leaving it too late. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests people are choosing not to have children,” she told BBC.
But ONS spokesman Richard Miles said there were other reasons that might explain why women are having fewer children overall.
“It’s fair to say that we have seen a trend of smaller families overall, but there are a lot of contributing factors to that,” he told the Independent.
“Education is a good example, and also continuing to work, so that all fits in with the trend.”
But there may be another reason that is influencing women’s family size and it’s all to do with genes.
Researchers at the University of Oxford revealed earlier this year that the number of children we may have could already be in our DNA.
The findings suggest that along with our personal decisions, social circumstances and environmental factors, genetics may also play a role in our reproductive behaviour.
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