Like marriage, becoming a parent is a life milestone that many Americans seemed to hit around the same time. A new study shows a gap growing in the ages of first-time moms and has found that where you live can affect when you’ll have kids.

In a study conducted on behalf of The New York Times, economist Caitlin Meyers examined data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics on births over the last four decades. Her research found that the age that American women become moms for the first time varies significantly based on where women live and their education level.

The study showed that in big cities and coastal areas, women tend to be older when they become moms, than those living in the Midwest, South and more rural areas. In New York City, for example, the average age of a first-time mom was 31, versus 21 in Zapata County, Texas.

Education was another big factor in determining when a woman has her first baby. Women with a college degree have kids an average of seven years later than those who don’t. The level of education also goes hand-in-hand with socio-economic status. Those with a higher level of education also tend to be those with a greater socio-economic status and vice versa, which means that the age gap between women having babies is also setting up an economic divide among future generations.

Across the board, Americans are waiting longer to have babies with the average age of a woman becoming a mom at 26, up from 21 in 1972. The rise is due to several factors including more people going to college and marrying later, as well as the rise in popularity of birth control, like IUDs.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Pixabay

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