Survey: Majority of Americans say women should have first child by 25

A Gallop survey shows that a majority of Americans think 25 or younger is the ideal age for a woman to have her first child.
(Nikolas Giakoumidis / Associated Press)

When should a women have her first baby? A majority of Americans said age 25 or younger would be the ideal, according to a new survey.

Gallup recently polled 5,100 people and found that 58% said women should start having children in their early 20s or late teens.

Only 3% of respondents said 31 or older is the ideal time for a woman to have her first child.

In this teetering economy -- and with the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds hovering around 13% -- the survey sparks the question: Exactly who thinks 25 is “ideal”?

While 72% of adults 65 and older said that women should have kids by 25, 60% of adults ages 18 to 29 agreed.

Ethnicity and education also played a part in how people responded, according to Gallup. Blacks and Latinos were more likely than whites to say a woman should have a baby by 25.

Americans with little or no college education were also more likely to say that a woman should have her first child by 25.

In the population as a whole, these beliefs don’t seem to be reflected in births.

Government research released in June found that birthrates among women in their teens and early 20s hit a record low in 2011.

Meanwhile, the birthrate among women in their early 40s rose to its highest mark since 1967, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.


The uptick is probably because of assisted reproduction, said Dr. Monica Stokes, an OB/GYN and director of women’s health at the L.A Gay & Lesbian Center.

A series of recent studies have shown that a woman’s fertility declines as she nears 30. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine campaign broadcast the message on bus-size billboards that fertility for women begins to dip at 27.

Stokes said women’s bodies are often at their best to have babies from 17 to 27, “but that’s not the only time.”

While a women’s fertility starts to decline slightly at 27, “The numbers don’t really start to kick in until 35,” she says.

While more women are waiting into their late 30s or early 40s to have a baby, often to ready their familial and financial situations, Stokes says a woman waiting past 35 “must ask herself hard questions.

“With each successive year, the things that interfere with safe, successful pregnancy start to build against you,” including the potential for chromosomal anomalies, she said.

Stokes often recommends women who plan to have a baby past 35 to look into freezing their eggs as soon as possible.

“There’s never a perfect time to have a baby, but once your eggs are gone, when that ships sails it’s done,” she says.

We created a poll similar to Gallup’s below. Let us know when you think the “ideal” time for a woman to have her first child.