Ideal Age at First Birth and Associated Factors: Results from the Qualitative SPAFF Study

Andrea Melnikas, City University of New York (CUNY)
Diana Romero, Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY)

There is limited research on the perceived ideal age at first birth among young men and women in the US. We sought to understand what young adults in the greater NYC area perceive as an ideal age at first birth and what factors influence this perception. We analyzed 200 in-depth interviews with heterosexual males and females from the Social Position and Family Formation (SPAFF) study. Our analysis revealed that early 30s were cited most often as ideal (33%), followed by late 20s (21%), early 20s (19%) and mid-30s (11%). For the overall sample, factors associated with respondents’ perception of ideal age fell into four categories: structural/social position-related (e.g., income/salary), individual/interpersonal (e.g., marriage), health/fertility-related (e.g., biological limitations), and aspirational (e.g., "having it all"). Ongoing sub-group analysis of potential differences by demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, age, relationship status) is underway with the goal of better informing how young adults conceptualize this milestone.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior