Ideal age at first birth and associated factors among young adults in greater New York City: Findings from the social position and family formation study

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Despite increases at age at first birth in the United States, we have little research on how individuals conceptualize the ideal age to have a child. Using qualitative interviews with male and female young adults in greater New York City, we examined individuals’ responses to questions about the ideal age at first birth. We find factors associated with an age being ideal tend to fall in four main domains: structural/social position factors, interpersonal factors, fertility and health-related factors, and aspirational factors. This research suggests that the ideal age is higher than the actual age at first birth, and both males and females consider a number of factors when choosing an ideal age, including education and career. We find that interpersonal and aspirational factors are also important considerations. Understanding ideal age at first birth is important for understanding family formation decision making in relation to age and may have important implications in other areas.