For many women, when it comes to the balance of career and motherhood, the struggle is real. Especially in the States, where maternity leave policies dictate women get a paltry 12-week unpaid leave, it often feels like it’s inevitable that one of the two — career or motherhood — will suffer. Fortunately, that’s not the case! In fact, recent studies on older mothers have found that waiting to have kids will not only improve their quality of life, but will also ensure you have a more fruitful career.
Published in the PLOS ONE journal, a study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that women who gave birth for the first time at age 30 or younger had significantly lower lifetime incomes than those who waited. These findings held true for both women with and without a college degree, though the difference was particularly noticeable for those without a college degree who had their first kid before they turned 25.
Study co-authors Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis, an assistant professor of economics in Arts and Sciences at Washington University, and Fane Groes, an economics professor with the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, analyzed the work experience and birth stats of 1.6 million Danish women ages 25-60 from 1995 through 2009 to figure out the correlation between a women’s lifetime career earnings and the age at which she had her first child.
“Children do not kill careers, but the earlier children arrive, the more their mother’s income suffers. There is a clear incentive for delaying,” said Santaeulalia-Llopis. “Our main result is that mothers lose between two and two-and-a-half years of their labor income if they have their first children before the age of 25.”
So if you’re a woman in her 20s who might be feeling the pressure to have a baby while you’re just starting to kill it in your career, give yourself a break. As with most things, it looks like it’ll all turn out okay in the end. ;)
How old were you when you had your first? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us!
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