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Fertility Trends Among Women

Somnath Pal, BS (Pharm), MBA, PhD
Professor of Pharmacy Administration
College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, St. John’s University
Jamaica, New York


US Pharm. 2012;37(9):8.

The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey reported that 50%, 32%, 31%, and 32% of native, foreign-born, naturalized, and noncitizen females, respectively, aged 15–44 years were childless. Of these, 71%, 48%, 30%, and 20% were aged 20–24, 25–29, 30–34, and 35–44 years, respectively; this distribution pattern held through the preceding decade. The mean number of births per mother fell significantly with age. Of women who gave birth in the last decade, those aged 25–29 years had the highest average birth rate (10.3/100 women), followed by those aged 30–34 years (8.9 births/100), 35–39 years (4.81 births/100), and 40–44 years (1.23 births/100). In 2010, 55% of females in the workforce aged 15–44 years gave birth. Of women having their first child, 56% of those aged 30–44 years were employed; part-time employment and unemployment were prevalent (19%) among those aged 20–29 years. In mothers of multiple children, unemployment was least prevalent (5%) in those aged 30–44 years; those aged 20–24 years had the most unemployment (13%) and part-time employment (17%).

Living Status and Education: There was a distinct pattern in living arrangements between women aged <30 or >30 years who gave birth in 2010. About 53% of women aged <30 years and 19% of those aged >30 years did not have a high school diploma and did not live with their spouse/partner. Women aged <30 years who had a high school diploma were 37% more likely to be married and living with their spouse; >85% had at least a bachelor’s degree and were married and living with their spouse/partner. The cohabitation rate was highest (18%) among women aged <30 years who had achieved less than a bachelor’s degree, and lowest (4%) among those aged >30 years with at least a bachelor’s degree. Among women aged ≥30 years, education level had no effect on living arrangements: 81% were married and living with their spouse, and 15% were not living with their spouse/partner.

Never-Married: The number of never-married mothers aged 15–44 years grew by 18% over the decade, for a mean increase of 4% per year; the number of children born to this group increased by 3% per year. In 2010, the number of children born to never-married mothers aged 25–29, 30–34, 35–39, and 40–44 years was 3.2, 2.4, 2.1, and 1.6 million, respectively, meaning 50% fewer births with age progression. There was a slight variation in the number of children born across maternal age groups, as well as in the number of never-married mothers.

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