The number of older mothers in Canada with a pre-school child or children has more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.
The 2006 census found of the 1.3 million women aged 40 to 44, 8.9 per cent were mothers of at least one child aged four and under.
And the report suggests that highly educated women — especially those with university degrees — are much more likely to have children when they’re in their 30s and 40s.
The study found that 13.8 per cent of women aged 40 to 44 who had a bachelor’s degree were mothers to a young child, compared with 6.4 per cent of women with a high school diploma or less. The proportion was 19.8 per cent for women who had a doctorate.
“We know that there’s a strong link between level and education of women and the likelihood that they become a mother later in life,” said Statistics Canada researcher Martin Turcotte, who co-authored the report. “We can see a pattern and we can expect given that the share of women with university degrees is still growing that this trend in later motherhood will continue in the next years.”
The report also finds that occupations with the highest proportion of older moms with young kids were those that required a high level of skill and education, including dentists, judges and lawyers.
Female health professionals aged 40 to 44 were particularly likely to have young kids. When examining women specialist physicians alone, one in four of these doctors with a medical specialty was an older mother to a pre-school child — the highest proportion reported of any individual occupation in Canada.
Turcotte said the decision to focus on details about older mothers came following the release of earlier census data on families which showed more young kids with mothers in their 40s.
“Quite often when we hear about motherhood after 35 it’s about health risks for the mother or for the children, or the fact that there might be fertility problems and women can have more difficulties to become pregnant after 35,” he said. “What we did here is we looked at other dimensions of their life when they do become mothers later in life.”
“What’s interesting is that ... their socioeconomic situation looks pretty good compared to women who have their children who are younger, for example, in terms of income.”
The report found in 2005, the median personal income of moms aged 40 to 44 who had one or more pre-school kids was $27,500 after taxes, a higher figure than for women who had both school-age and pre-school age kids ($24,500) and more than women who had only children aged 12 and up ($25,600).