Older Moms Are an Elite Club
In May, Caroline Kitchener explored the advantages and disadvantages for mothers who wait until midlife to have kids.
Your recent article seeks to warn women off planning for kids at 40+, emphasizing the cost and unreliability of fertility treatments. Characterizing moms at 40+ as “elite” (because they tend to be in stable relationships, college educated, professionally established, more affluent, and better prepared to parent), the article doesn’t note that, for many, these effects are the result of delay, not just an effect of preexistent privilege. It concludes by worrying that inequality will increase if later kids are too much better off!
Tick-tock stories blaming women who delay kids have proliferated for years, without effect. Those who “can’t afford to wait” are straw women, since folks (male and female) from many income levels are delaying kids, because they anticipate benefits. Teen births have fallen 55% since the recession started in 2007, and the U.S. birth rate hit a new low in 2017, with birthrates down in all age groups except 40+.
People delay in large part because the U.S. doesn’t support working families (no paid family leave, no affordable good childcare, no pay equity, no school/work synchrony). Delay allows would-be parents to provide those things themselves. Some will deal with infertility, successfully or not, depending on their funding and their luck. That’s a risk many feel pushed to take, even if all things being equal they might have wanted to start sooner.