Mean Age of Mothers is on the Rise: United States, 2000–2014
Key findings - Data from the National Vital Statistics System
The mean age of mothers has increased from 2000 to 2014 for all birth orders, with age at first birth having the largest increase, up from 24.9 years in 2000 to 26.3 years in 2014.
Increases in the average age for all birth orders were most pronounced from 2009 to 2014.
In 2014, Asian or Pacific Islander mothers had the oldest average age at first birth (29.5 years), while American Indian or Alaska Native mothers had the youngest (23.1 years).
Mean age at first birth increased in all states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) from 2000 to 2014, but D.C. (3.4 years) and Oregon had the largest increases (2.1 years).
A mother's age at birth, and particularly the mean or "average" age when a mother has her first child, is of interest to researchers and the public. Mean age can affect the total number of births a mother has over a lifetime, which in turn impacts the composition and growth of the U.S. population. Age of mother is associated with a range of birth outcomes, such as multiple births and birth defects. An earlier report presented trends in mean age from 1970 to 2000. This report updates the earlier report and presents trends in the mean age at first and higher birth orders by race and Hispanic origin of mother and by state from 2000 to 2014.
What are the recent trends in average age of mothers in the United States?
The mean age of first-time mothers increased 1.4 years, from 24.9 in 2000 to 26.3 in 2014. While the mean age at first birth was fairly stable for the first half of this time period, greater increases were observed from 2009 (25.2 years) to 2014 (26.3 years) (Figure 1).
Trends in mean age of mother for higher-order births were similar to those for first births—that is, generally stable from 2000 to 2006, followed by greater increases from 2009 to 2014.
Increases from 2000 to 2014 in average age for higher birth orders were less than those for first births, rising 1.4 years for first births, 1.0 years for second births, 0.8 years for third- and fourth-order births, and 0.5 years for fifth- and higher-order births.
As a result of the different rate of increases by birth order, the gap in the mean age between sequential birth orders has decreased. For example, the difference in the mean age at first birth compared with the mean age at second birth was 2.8 years in 2000 and 2.4 years in 2014.