Women ARE choosing careers over having children as new study reveals

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Women ARE choosing careers over having children as new study finds the main reason would-be mothers are delaying giving birth is to focus on work

  • Women in Britain who want children are delaying pregnancy to focus on careers 
  • Financial strain was found as less important when decided when to have a family
  • Statistics showed more than half of women are childless at the age of 30  

Women in Britain who want to have children are delaying pregnancy principally to focus on their careers, a study has found.

Factors such as financial strain were found to be less important when considering the timing of starting a family.

A landmark shift in family life was revealed by statistics earlier this year which showed that more than half of women are childless at the age of 30.

An in-depth study set up to understand why women delay having children gave 411 participants a list of 11 options, asking them to select up to three which were important in deciding their preferred age for motherhood.

Careers were the biggest factor, followed by feeling ready and their financial situation.

Women in Britain who want to have children are delaying pregnancy principally to focus on their careers, a study has found (stock image)

Women in Britain who want to have children are delaying pregnancy principally to focus on their careers, a study has found (stock image)

The survey, led by University College London, found that 30 was the average preferred age to have a baby for the first time.

Almost half of the women, when asked for their ideal age to become a mother, and why they chose it, said they wanted to develop their career. 

In comparison, just 37 per cent chose the timing of motherhood based on financial worries. 

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, quoted one woman who said: ‘I feel worried about whether I will be able to have the children I want in the time I have without putting too much pressure on my career.’

The researchers said many women wanted to have a baby only when their career, finances and emotions were stable, and it was the ‘right time’.

Professor Joyce Harper, lead author and author of Your Fertile Years, said: ‘Our study shows women are still prioritising their career over having a baby, even in 2022.

‘It’s not necessarily that they want to reach the top of the ladder or are ambitious. Instead, many are nervous because they feel their career will suffer after returning to work after having a baby.

‘It shows the importance of employers supporting women to progress in their career and offering decent pay, so women can afford childcare.’

Professor Joyce Harper (pictured with her family), lead author and author of Your Fertile Years, said: ¿Our study shows women are still prioritising their career over having a baby, even in 2022

Professor Joyce Harper (pictured with her family), lead author and author of Your Fertile Years, said: ‘Our study shows women are still prioritising their career over having a baby, even in 2022

The study authors warn women could run out of time to have children. 

They are calling for better education so women understand that fertility declines in their thirties and IVF is not a fail-safe solution. 

Women also described having to wait for their partner to be ready to have a child, and concerns over maternity leave and childcare.

The researchers noted most of the women were highly educated, which may affect their priorities.

Many women told researchers they wanted to enjoy ‘freedom’ before settling down. 

One said: ‘I’d like to enjoy my thirties without that kind of responsibility first.’

But would tax breaks for parents help? 

A cabinet minister has suggested that fresh incentives are needed to encourage parents to have more children.

With 1.3million workforce vacancies and public finances under pressure due to an ageing population, the MP is calling for tax breaks for parents who have large families.

Prime Minister Liz Truss wants to bring more skilled migrants to the UK to help fill vacancies and boost growth. The unnamed MP told The Sun on Sunday: ‘Look at the labour shortages we are suffering from. We need to have more children. The rate keeps falling. Look at Hungary – they cut taxes for mothers who have more children.’

In Hungary, mothers are exempted from income tax for life if they have four children or more. If introduced, a mother earning the average UK salary of £26,208 would save £2,727 per year. The UK population is set to peak at 71million in the 2040s before declining, creating an economic time bomb.

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