Percent of American women who will give birth in lifetime?

Hoping this makes sense but if current statistics were frozen, what percent of women born today will end up giving birth at sometime in their lives?

Is this possible to answer? I’m 50 and besides my wife I don’t have a single female friend who is child free. So I’m going to guess the answer is a pretty high number.

Googling turned up this article, which says that the current answer is 82%.

Note that the stated 82% is 82% of those women who end their child bearing years. To get the OP’s statistic we need to know about those who die before ending child bearing years. A fair number of girls still die young, particularly in the first year. I don’t know how that compares to the deaths of mothers before they end their child-bearing years.

It doesn’t have much effect. In the US, deaths in the first year run around 0.6% (6 per 1000 - high compared to other western countries); after that, it’s really low until the mid-20s. Overall, close to 99% of women make it to childbearing age.


so I’m guessing if we take a cohort born TODAY the percentage giving birth will be even lower. Possibly much lower.

Probably lower. Maybe not much lower.

People are having their first children later in life, which would make the fraction of women of childbearing age who haven’t had children higher even if nothing changed about the rate of women who have children.

I don’t have enough data to know which effect dominates.

So what is the number? 82% or 52.4%? That’s a fairly significant difference? The 82% is hard to believe.

This isn’t relevant t the OP. Not interested in females who still have the capability to give birth, hence concentration on the late 40s age range.

Around 80% of women who are no longer capable of giving birth do have children.

I actually though it would be higher. It’s anecdotal of course but I’ve can think of only one woman I know my age (50) who is child free.

I thought that 82% sounded low to me, but anecdotally, I tallied myself, my sisters, and my sisters-in-law - 80% of us have given birth. shrug

I’m blown away my just how strong the urge to reproduce must be. Neither of us have ever felt it. Its a lifelong, irrevocable, expensive, life changing exhausting decision that almost all women choose. I can think of no voluntary parallel with this rate of participation.

Can anyone tell me what this urge feels like? Is it like the urge to smoke once you’re addicted and trying to quit? Like a sweet tooth maybe?

But you are descended from a very long line of women who did.

That may be true, but it doesn’t mean close to 99% of all women make it all the way through childbearing age. A girl who dies at age 16 would have made it to childbearing age, but may well have died ong before having children. She might well have been thinking of have children later on, but never had the opportunity before she died before she could.

For this reason, I think the answer must be below 82%. These 82% are the percentage of women past their childbearing age who have given birth, which is not the same thing the OP asked about (percentage of all women currently alive who will have given birth before they die). OldGuy already pointed out that you have to factor in those who die before reaching childbearing age, and to that I’d like to add that you also have to factor in those who reach childbearing age but die during that time window before having the opportunity to give birth. Which is not that rare, considering that it’s a time window of more than thirty years.

bolding mine

I don’t think you do. The OP seems to be pondering the question of how many women choose to have children vs those who don’t. If that is indeed the question, it seems best to only consider those who have lived to the end of their child bearing years. Those who die before the end of their child bearing years have not made a choice, and therefore should not be considered.

No, you have it backwards. People have strong urges to have sex, not to reproduce. Reproduction used to happen involuntarily as a consequence of sex. In the US, even in this age of supposed access to contraception and abortion, an estimated 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted. Many women carry the fetuses to term despite being quite lukewarm about the idea due to cultural conditioning that “motherhood” is very important. Others are unable/unwilling to fight the religious crazies trying to force motherhood on women by banning access to contraception and abortion. And there is still a lot of cultural conditioning that a woman is incomplete and useless unless she cranks out a baby or two. That’s not a biological urge, it’s a cultural pressure.

It is quite apparent that when women are given choices they tend to have fewer and fewer children. Very few women voluntarily have more than one or two children. Increasing numbers of women every decade choose to have zero children. I suspect this trend will continue. In the current polls, men (in general) seem to be more interested in having children than women do (probably because they are assuming the women will take on all of the work).

As for the OP who doesn’t know any women who haven’t had children, that’s due to selection bias. Once you have a child you enter into this odd sub-culture of “parents” and tend to get avoided by the child-free who don’t want to listen to your stories about baby puke and are tired of lying about how “cute” your child is. I’d say at least 75% of my friends are child-free.

Thanks, Spam. That was enlightening.

And my observation may be selection bias, though we are child free. :slight_smile:

That’s an awfully biased - dare I say misandrystic - thing to say. I don’t have a single male friend or colleague who has said or appeared to think that they expect their wife/SO/etc. to shoulder the burden of child-rearing. I’ve also never met a father who wasn’t happy to take care of his kids, whatever that entails. To suggest otherwise is to take a sexist stance against all of those fathers out there who work hard at being a good parent.

Here’s a second theory - maybe less women want to have kids these days because the current cultural paradigm glamorizes women in the workplace (yep, that cultural effect works either way ya know). That’s not to say it is a good or bad thing, it just simply is. Difficult to carry on with a career if you have to put it on hold with a pregnancy/maternity leave, so kids exit the picture pretty quickly if you’re a woman and serious about your work.

The word’s “misandrist”, by the way. However, while it’s exaggerated to say that women are still expected to do all the work of child-rearing, it’s still typical and expected that they’ll do a very disproportionate share of it.

So no, there’s not really anything automatically “misandrist” about the supposition that in general, men who want children probably expect or assume on some level that the children’s mother will be shouldering most of the child-care burden. After all, that’s still how things actually work in practice.

You only get so much time on this earth, you might as well experience it. People act like going to China for two weeks is a trip.