More and more Americans are waiting to have kids until they're in their late 30s or even 40s, according to a recent Pew study and CDC figures released today. In 2012, 15% of first-time moms were over age 35, up from just 1% in 1970, the Wall Street Journal reports. The trend has accelerated since 2000, one demographer tells the New York Daily News. Since then, first-time birth rates for women age 35-39 have risen in 46 states, and those for women 40-44 have risen in 31.
"This is good news," one sociologist says. Older moms "are more protected against the shock of earnings loss, and they’re probably more independent and better-established in their relationships." But there are downsides: Women who wait face more health risks, and are likely to have smaller families. That will drive down the country's already shrinking fertility rate, which can dampen economic growth. (Read more parenting stories.)