We know that our generation brought on a sexual revolution, and along with it a “having kids” revolution too. Women who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s definitely had children later in life than did our mothers. And many of us chose not to have children at all. Emma Gray wrote recently in the Huffington Post about this phenomenon and how it’s carrying on into the next generations. Recent census data shows that 47.6 percent of women between 15 and 44 do not have children; up from the previously recorded figure of 46.5 percent. Granted the age range is wide; factoring in girls/women between 15 and 21 might not be the best way to get a picture of birth trends overall, but still – 47.6 percent is huge. For us Boomers, the percentage distills down to 16.5 percent, or one in six women who do not have children. With one in three women over 50 living single, that’s a lot of women living without partners and without offspring to provide support as they get older.
It’s interesting to see that the birth rate in the United States has now fallen to an all-time low: 62.9 births for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. One can infer from this that among the women of the next generation, more women than ever before will be free of the responsibilities of raising children. Does this mean that, while there are fewer of us able to rely on our own offspring as we get older, on the other hand there may be a larger pool of women available to volunteer or otherwise provide support for older women who are not their mothers or aunts? Perhaps the aging in place concept and living in community trend will be strengthened by not only our own cohort, but also by women of the younger generation who choose the same paths that we have and see the value in supporting one another regardless of marriage or parenthood.