Average family size remains static at 1.89 children, figures show

By Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor

Women are having 1.89 children on average – a figure that remains static, new figures show.

Data for England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics found that of women who turned 45 in 2018, the average family size was 1.89 children.

This is the same as the previous year but continues a downward trend from a high of 2.42 for women born in 1935.

The proportion of women having just one child has been rising over the years and currently stands at 18%, the same as last year and up from 14% for women born in 1946.

Two-children families remain the most common size, at 37% for women who reached their 45th birthday in 2018.

Among this age group, 19% of women were childless at the end of their childbearing years – similar to recent years but more than double the 9% among their mothers’ generation.

By the age of 30, 53% of women born in 1973 had at least one child, compared with 82% for their mothers’ generation.

In its release, the ONS said: “Increasing childlessness in recent cohorts may be because of a decline in the proportion of women married; changes in the perceived costs and benefits of child-rearing versus work and leisure activities; greater social acceptability of a child-free lifestyle; and the postponement of decisions about whether to have children until it may be biologically too late.”