Volume 16, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437


Choosing to have a baby after the age of 40 has become something of a cultural touchstone in the developed world. At best, women face grim warnings of risks to child and mother. At worst, they are accused of being ‘selfish’ by doctors and pundits alike. All this takes place at a time when the numbers of over-40 mothers are thought to be increasing explosively. However, a historical overview shows that women aged 40 to 44 were giving birth at almost twice the rate in Europe before 1790 than they are currently. Moreover, the countries with the highest rates of older mothers nowadays are not in Europe or North America, but rather in the developing world. The difference, the author argues, is choice. When a woman in an Afghan village gives birth to her tenth baby at forty-four, she is accorded the pity with which we condescend to the poor. When a woman in New York City chooses to have a baby at the same age, the knives come out. Reproductive choice being such a new concept and phenomenon, it could very well be that women are being vilified for exercising it at almost every stage of their lives, including when they choose to become mothers in their forties.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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