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‘People need to breed’

November 17, 2010 - Meg Alexander
“As I lay face down on the table ...” was the suggested intro for this blog, provided by a certain medical student I met recently at a clinic in Mankato. (Don't worry, this blog does not involve too much information about any medical procedures, though I'm sure one's imagination could going wild about this time.)

This same student also provided me his grandfather’s favorite saying: “People need to breed.” What his grandfather really meant was “Smart people need to breed.”

How this whole conversation came to be is a long and amusing story, in and of itself, but the gist of what the grandfather meant and what his grandson and I were discussing is, in fact, an interesting and potentially serious point.

I have no biological children of my own, nor do my siblings, nor do the vast majority of my close friends from high school and college. Most of us are in our 30s now, or getting close, and the reasons for waiting to have children, or simply not have them at all, varies among us. Quite often, but not always, the decision is related to our careers. If and when we do have children, we’re certainly not going to be producing a big brood.

So where does this leave us? A study by the Pew Research Center examines the topic:

"Since 1990, birth rates have risen for all women ages 30 and older. Although in some cases the number of births is small, the rate increases have been sharpest for women in the oldest age groups — 47% for women ages 35-39 and 80% for women ages 40-44, for example.

This delay in age of motherhood is associated with delay in age of marriage and with growing educational attainment. The more education a woman has, the later she tends to marry and have children. Birth rates also have risen for the most educated women, those with at least some college education, while being relatively stable for women with less education. These dual factors have worked together to increase the education levels of mothers of newborns."

 
 

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