Census report shows more childless women, smaller family sizes

.- A new Census Bureau report shows that more women in their 40s are childless, while those who are having children are having fewer than ever before. The same report, released on Monday, shows that more than 28 percent of children born in the year preceding the 2006 survey were born to mothers who had never been married.

According to the Census Bureau’s report “Fertility of American Women: 2006,” over the last 30 years the number of women aged 40 to 44 with no children has doubled from 10 percent to 20 percent. Women of that age group who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women in the same age group in 1976.

The census report used data from an annual survey of 76 million women ages 15 to 50 conducted from January through December 2006, the Associated Press reports. The data allows a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns, collating statistics which could be used by state agencies to evaluate the need for maternal care services.

About 4.2 million women participating in the survey in 2006 had had a child in the previous year.

About 35.5 percent of women who gave birth in the previous twelve months were separated, divorced, widowed, or never married, with the never married women comprising 28.4 percent of the overall total.

In 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. While women in the labor force accounted for 57 percent of recent births, unemployed women had about twice as many children as working women. About one quarter of all women who had a child in the previous year were living below the poverty level.

The census report says second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers. California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey had a greater percentage of foreign-born women who became mothers in 2006. The Southeast and Southwest U.S. had a bigger share of women in poverty who gave birth in the previous year

Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the larger number of childless women could cause demographic problems in the future.

"It means that 25 years from now, there'll be many elderly people who are childless and who may not have anybody to care for them," he said, according to LifeSiteNews.com.

Pope Benedict XVI in a 2006 message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences commented that children are too often looked upon in terms of their economic costs and not as gifts from God. He attributed the decline in birthrates to this mentality, also blaming it for being detrimental to children already born.

"It is children and young people who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope,” the Pope said. “Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated.”

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