April 28, 2007


Motherhood On Hold (Julia Stuart, 29 April 2007, Independent)

Look around and there are certainly the signs. Most of us know of women in their mid-thirties who haven't had children. But research published last week showed a startling picture: 40 per cent of graduate women are still childless by the age of 35, an increase of 20 per cent in just over a decade. A third of female university graduates will never have children. Some right-wing commentators blamed these "selfish" women for the pensions crisis facing the country. Others asked, "Who is to blame?" But the author of the research - along with women all over Britain - says that the real questions are much more complex.

The findings come from a study of more than 5,000 women born in 1970 and tracked throughout their lives by researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, based at the Institute of Education, University of London. "Highly educated women," says Professor Heather Joshi, head of the research team, "are more likely not to have children young and they are more likely to end up with none. It's probably because they have better paying careers, better alternatives: they may have the kind of careers in which they need to settle before they think about having breaks or finding the means to combine parenthood with paid work. They may have higher aspirations about the housing market and who they will settle with. There are a lot of factors."

The author Lionel Shriver, 49, chose not to become a mother. "For me, establishing myself as a writer was so important, and took so long, that it consumed my entire reproductive lifetime ... I didn't feel I could afford the distraction and emotional energy that it would have taken to try and raise a family at the same time."

Shriver, who won the Orange Prize in 2005, believes that had she become more successful earlier in her career, she would have been more likely to have had children. But she is at peace with her decision.

It's not as if her books will be read, so what has she achieved?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2007 8:36 PM

If you grow old and die without ever having a spouse and kids--then what did you live for?

These folks seem to be intellectually incurious. They never have stopped to think about what their life will be when they are 70 years old and sitting on a rocking chair in the old-age home. They'll reminisce about--what? Not a decades old love, not their children. Their books that they wrote which went directly to the remainder bin?

Posted by: ray at April 28, 2007 9:17 PM

Her name is Lionel?

Maybe that's a part of it...

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 29, 2007 7:12 AM

She's at peace. What more could anyone ask? Lucky for her there will be lots of other geezers like her to pal around with at the old-age home.

Posted by: erp at April 29, 2007 9:33 AM

Okay, I really have to say this. I was reminded of 'Murder by Death' and the host's name (played by Truman Capote): Lionel Twain. And the line about this being the right house (Peter Sellers, IIRC) "See - two two Twain".

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 29, 2007 11:56 AM