Among the many changes in American families over the past few decades is the increasing number of parents who are having children later in life. While the average first time parent in the U.S. is in her twenties, in recent years, as many as 14% of all births were to women 35 and older. The fact that couples are marrying later and that women have improved career opportunities helps explains the trend along with the availability of more reliable forms of contraception and reproductive technology that extends both men and women’s fertility. Journalist JUDITH SHULEVITZ had her first child at 39 (her husband was in his mid-forties) and she has written about her experiences as well as the risks, challenges and rewards of older parenthood in a cover story for the December 20th issue of The New Republic. It’s titled “How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society” and in it she draws on both science and sociology to understand this phenomenon and its ramifications for the future.
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