Waiting to have children comes with financial benefits, says a new study published in PLOS ONE. The transition the world experienced through industrialisation came hand in hand with drastic changes reshaping the social institution that constitutes the family. One of the major aspects has entailed delaying the decision to have kids. More women than ever before are now choosing to have children later, after they hit the age of 30. Researchers of the new study, led by Man Yee (Mallory) Leung from Washington University School of Medicine, show how this decision leads to financial advantages.
Women having children at a later time have a lower income loss from their jobs than those who have their first baby at a younger age, or who never have kids.
Leung says their paper is the first to evaluate the effects of a woman’s age when bearing her first child on her total lifetime career earnings. The team studied findings of around 1.6 million Danish women; this data spans from 1996 to 2009.
The average annual salaries of the women was calculated in order to find the short- and long-term lifetime career income losses of women having had their first baby before reaching 25 years of age, and for every 3-year-interval up to the age of 40 and beyond.
The results show that working women having their first child before 25 years of age had the greatest career income loss while women bearing children before the age of 30 had lower lifetime incomes than those having children over 30. Furthermore, the total lifetime career earning of the latter were higher than the those having no children. Women having their first child after reaching 37 even had an extra 0.5 years’ salary on their lifetime earnings.
Co-author Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis explains that “children do not kill careers”, but that a woman’s income will feel the impact if the kids are born earlier. According to Raul, this is a clear motivation to delay having children, adding that the entire society faces loss when productive women have children earlier.