The demographics of motherhood in the U.S. have changed considerably over the last 20 years. American mothers are increasingly older and more educated than their predecessors.
According to Pew Research Center, in 2008, 10 percent of births were to teen mothers, while 14 percent of births were to women 35 and older.
That same year, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older, more than double the number in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
And, New York Magazine reports one-quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are.
The number of U.S. births has been steadily falling for decades. The Pew Research Center’s Gretchen Livingston and D’Vera Cohn found that decrease to be particularly sharp among low-income women, between 2008 to 2011, coinciding with the economic turmoil of the Great Recession.
Pew’s 2011 study found mothers to be more educated than before. 66 percent of mothers in 2011 had some level of college education, up from 18 percent in 1960 and about 50 percent in 1990.
The Pew report also stated that these changes in demographics have impacts on children. Children whose mothers have higher levels of education, for example, are more likely to have a healthier birth rate and achieve higher academically in school.
Most Americans believe the higher number of out-of-wedlock marriages is an issue for society, according to a 2007 Pew report, but this assessment differs greatly among older and younger generations. In 2008, 41 percent of mothers were unmarried, up from 28 percent in 1990.
About two-thirds of Americans ages 65 and older say unmarried women having children is always or almost always wrong.
Across the globe, a Save the Children report names Finland as the best place to be a mother — followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. The U.S. ranked at 31 on the list, while Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali were rated the most difficult countries to be a mother.