Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Women Opt for Fun First, Babies Later; Poll Shows Change in Priorities

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Women Opt for Fun First, Babies Later; Poll Shows Change in Priorities

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

COUPLES are putting off starting families until later than ever because they would rather have fun and make money.

Although most people believe it is better to have children when young, only a minority say they will put it ahead of their social life and careers, according to new poll findings.

A majority of both men and women think it is more important for women to enjoy themselves than to have babies.

More than 60 per cent also think that doing well at work and earning money count for more than bringing up children. Less than a third said bringing up a family came ahead of material success and only 32 per cent of men thought women should put children before work.

The survey of 1, 006 adults by ICM for the Guardian also revealed how even among couples who want to start a family, career and financial pressure are making it far harder.

Almost two thirds of respondents said the demands of work meant they had to put off having children. Just over 50 per cent said the cost of child-rearing deterred them.

The findings come as the average age of first-time parenthood rises to an all-time high. Almost half of all babies in Britain are now born to women aged 30 or over.

Elizabeth Hurley had her son Damien Charles in 2002 when she was 36. The four-year-old's father is American billionaire Steve Bing, who was 37 at the time. The couple met in 2000.

The poll found that 53 per cent of women and 46 per cent of men thought that it was more difficult than ever to meet Mr or Ms Right.

Other surveys have shown that the debt taken on by young adults - including student loans - combined with soaring housing costs mean that they are forced to delay starting families while they save for deposits. However, less than a quarter think there is too little government support for parents.

Despite the trend, the overwhelming majority of people polled acknowledged that the best age for a woman to give birth is under 30, when fertility is at its highest. …

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