Following the example of retailers who put up Christmas displays right after Labor Day, the Census Bureau this week posted its “Facts for Features” about Mother’s Day—even though that day doesn’t arrive until May 14. Perhaps they’d confused Mother’s Day with Administrative Professionals Day, which comes next month. Anyhow, among the fun facts about mothers in the U.S.: 81 percent of women age 40-44 are mothers, down from 90 percent in 1976. The average age at which American women give birth for the first time is now 25.2, the highest on record. With women having fewer children, a higher percentage of births are now of first children. Forty percent of births are of firstborns, 32 percent are of second kids, 17 percent are of third kids, and 11 percent are of fourth-or-more-borns. Women in Utah are currently averaging 2.6 kids apiece in their lifetimes; those in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts average 1.7. As numerous commentators have noted since the 2004 elections, red-state fertility rates are markedly higher than blue-state rates. An op-ed piece this week in USA Today by Phillip Longman notes another aspect of variations in fertility: “In the USA, the 17.4 percent of baby-boomer women who had one child account for a mere 9.2 percent of kids produced by their generation. But among children of the baby boom, nearly a quarter descend from the mere 10 percent of baby-boomer women who had four or more kids.” By sheer force of their offsprings’ numbers, he argues, the prolific parents will transmit their values to the future more surely than those who have just one kid—let alone those adults who have no kids at all.
—Posted by Mark Dolliver