According to a recent study in the New York Times, the average age of a first-time mother in Manhattan is 31.1 years old. In San Francisco County, the number is nearly 32. And in the US as a whole, it was 26.3 in 2016.
This is what the national distribution looked like in 1980:
And this is what it looked like in 2016:
Perhaps not surprisingly, the biggest factor influencing the age of a first-time mother is education. Becoming educated and building a career takes time. First-time mothers tend to be older in big cities (particularly on the coasts) compared to rural areas.
The concern that researchers have with all of this is that it is symptomatic of growing inequality. Scrolling over the NY Times’ map, it would appear that there’s nearly a 10 year gap between the coasts and many parts of the country.
On the one hand you have people who are finishing high school and having kids fairly soon after. And on the other hand, you have people going to college, establishing their career, and waiting, in some cases a decade, to have kids.
This is significant because it can create a virtuous circle (excerpt from article):
“A college degree is increasingly essential to earning a middle-class wage, and older parents have more years to earn money to invest in violin lessons, math tutoring and college savings accounts — all of which can set children on very different paths.”
Unequal childhoods can lead to unequal outcomes.
Images: New York Times