Delayed childbearing in the United States: An exploration of the implications for women's and children's lives

Nord, Christine Winquist.  University of Pennsylvania. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1988. 8824776.

Abstract (summary)

Many researchers and the popular press have commented on the increasing proportion of first births being born to women 25 and older, but almost no research has examined what this trend portends for women and their children. In part because of the enormous amount of research on teenage childbearing, which suggests that deferring a birth is better, the assumption is that being older is always better.

Using Wave I of the National Survey of Children (NSC), this dissertation considered a variety of measures of well-being to determine whether delayed childbearers and their children were indeed better off than women who began childbearing at more typical ages and their children. The NSC is nationally-representative probability sample of households containing children between the ages 7 and 11 in late 1976 and early 1977.

Our results suggest that on a level of personal and psychological well-being, women who delay childbearing are no better off than more typical aged childbearers. In fact, they may not be doing as well as their more typical aged counterparts. Moreover, highly educated delayed childbearers who have family incomes above the national median, contrary to commonly held expectations, do not feel better about their lives than younger aged childbearers (excluding teenaged childbearers) in similar circumstances or than other delayed childbearers who are not highly educated or who have family incomes below the national median.

Furthermore, in most respects, the children of delayed childbearers do not appear to be significantly different from the children of normative aged childbearers. As with their mothers, however, the coefficients suggest that they may be doing somewhat less well than the children of more typical aged childbearers. At any rate, it is safe to conclude that they are doing no better.

In most respects, being older at first birth relative to being "on-time" has very little influence on women's and children's lives beyond the obvious educational and economic advantages to the mother. These advantages, however, do not seem to imply that the women and their children will be similarly advantaged in all other areas of their lives.

Indexing (details)

Families & family life;
Personal relationships;
0628: Families & family life
0628: Personal relationships
0628: Sociology
0938: Demographics
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences
Delayed childbearing in the United States: An exploration of the implications for women's and children's lives
Nord, Christine Winquist
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 49/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Furstenberg, Frank F., Jr.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL