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New Zealand women are having their first child at age 30

The median age for women giving birth in 2011 was 30 years. That means that half of all women giving birth were younger than 30 years and half were aged over 30 years. However, this takes into account all live births, regardless of the number of times a woman has previously given birth. Therefore, the median age for a woman giving birth to her first child will be lower.

Conclusion

This myth is busted.

So, at what age are women having their first child? The median age of mothers giving birth to their first child is roughly 28 years, two years younger than the average across all mothers. It is also important to note that this median age is based on children of the current relationship only.

The median age for both childbirth and birth of first child has remained steady since 2001.

About one-half of births are registered as first births. The median age of women giving birth to their second child is roughly 32 years.

How did this myth arise?

This myth may have arisen because we have been reluctant to publish data on mother’s age at first birth, although there is interest in this from health researchers and providers, media, businesses, and the general public.

Information about births comes from the birth registration form. The form asks whether there are any other children of the mother’s current relationship. This is because, for privacy reasons, it is deemed unacceptable to ask women about children outside their current relationship. Although children from previous relationships are probably included in some cases, this question does not produce a complete measure of all previous live births to a woman. The 'real' median might be slightly younger than that given above, but 28 years is a reasonable estimate of the upper limit.

For your information

Births and Deaths – information releases 
Statistics on the number of births and deaths registered in New Zealand, and selected fertility and mortality indices. Updated quarterly.

Demographic Trends 2011: Glossary 
A statistical definition of ‘live births’, as well as other demographic terms.

Published 22 June 2012, based on information previously published on 27 November 2006.

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