According to data from the National Institute for Statistics (INE), in 1970s Spain, the average age to have a first child was 26 years old. A figure that has steadily increased over the years to where it stands today at 31 years old, which makes Spain, along with Italy, the European countries that most delay becoming a mother.
55% of Spaniards consider that between 26 and 31 years old is the best age to have children, whilst 25% think it is better between the ages of 32 and 35. Having better economic stability, enjoying life before becoming a mother or finding the right partner are some of the motives for waiting.
What, however, is the best age to have children according to the experts? As well as the social factors and economic reasons which we have just mentioned, it is evident that the biological clock is against the desire to prosper professionally and enjoy life. What does science have to say on the matter? Should we have children before or after the age of 30.
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO HAVE CHILDREN ACCORDING TO THE EXPERTS?
Using general calculations, different branches of science have concluded that the idea age to have children is between 19 and 40 years old, which is a wide age range. However, can we establish a more specific interval?
After analyzing the correlation between the average age of first-time mothers, the percentage of teenage women and the average age of women at childbirth in different European Union countries, experts suggest that the ideal is to wait until 30. And, although it is not recommended to have children at 40, it has been shown that these women are four times more likely to live to 100 than other women.
However, as we have previously discussed, there are other social, biological and gender considerations to take into account when deciding on when is the best age to become a mother. The only sure thing is that the equation will give us difference results for each individual.
From a biological point of view, studies establish that the best age to have children with the least amount of complications in pregnancy and post-partum, is between 25 and 29.9 years old. Indeed, female fertility reaches its peak levels within this age range.
Furthermore, one must remember that after the age of 35, fertility declines considerably. Women are born with a determined number of follicles in their ovaries. The ovarian reserve drops in a drastic fashion after the age of 34 until it reaches an insufficient level at some point in the 40s, and menopause begins. Indeed, after this age, female fertility reduces by half, only conserving a minimum percentage of the ovarian reserve.
Socioeconomic differences lead to an important level of inequality when it comes to health. People with a lower socioeconomic status experience higher levels of morbidity and mortality, with less access to preventative medicine and planning, and a higher proportion of unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Furthermore, diverse studies have demonstrated that for every year a couple delays the moment to start a family, they increase their average income by 10%. The economic deterioration of young adults has made it difficult for them to achieve independence, for which starting a family is not within their short term plans.
The good news is that children born to older mothers usually obtain better education levels and an increased cognitive development. Whilst the parents have better work, emotional and home life stability.
In this sense, the ideal age lies between 30 and 32 years old.
Due to historical and cultural reasons, women usually have more to lose in terms of work and income, when they become mothers, which is why many choose to postpone the moment. Furthermore, differences in salaries between men and women, and the lack of flexibility in sharing parenting leave, exert considerable influences on the decision to have a child.
In this consideration, there is no ideal age until all the other factors are in place, although this looked-for stability generally arrives around the age of 35 years old.