How many Choice Moms are there?

When I wrote my Choosing Single Motherhood book in 2005, I estimated — based on available data — that more than 50,000 single American women over the age of 35 gave birth each year. Now that it is 2012, I went looking for updated statistics about Choice Moms, from several countries.

In the United States, according to National Vital Statistics Reports (November 2011), 19 percent of births in the 35 to 39 age group are to single women (89,854 births); 21.4 percent in the over 40 age group (24,333).

So, more than 100,000 births to unmarried women over the age of 35 is still the norm. As I originally wrote in my book, this doesn’t count single women who adopt, but it does include those who might be partnered yet unmarried. I will stick with my estimate that 50,000 single women who are old enough to know how to prevent pregnancy are giving birth in the United States each year.

In the United Kingdom, this article estimates that 15,000 single women over the age of 40 give birth each year in the U.K. This represents three times as many single new moms of that age than there were in 1991. And, in fact, there are more unmarried women over the age of 35 having children than there are married women of that age: According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2010 there were 44,437 births to unmarried women over the age of 35.

In Canada, single women giving birth who were over the age of 35 grew from 8,686 in 2000 to 11,941 in 2010.

In Israel: “Some 4,900 single Jewish women in Israel gave birth in 2010, nearly double the number who gave birth in 2000.” The more extensive record-keeping there reveals that 16 percent of single-women headed households are Choice families, rather than single by divorce, separated or widowed.


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