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Home Alone Young Couples

This week saw release of Deirdre Macken?s book on declining birth rates called ?Oh No - we forgot to have children?. It is a catchy title evocative of the 1990s family comedy classic Home Alone written by John Hughes where a family with seven children take off for a holiday, forgetting their eight-year-old Kevin. In 1990 when families took their eight-year-olds to the movies, mums and dads were in their mid 30s. Now they are fewer and more likely to be 40?ish and there are not many family comedy movies. Median age of women having babies was 27 in 1982, when Kevin was born, and it is now over 30.

Macken, who like John Hughes (http://www.findem.com.au/resources/displayResourcesArticle.php?id=73)is a baby boomer scribe, has written an absorbing collage of autobiographical anecdotes from her own family and friends? motherhood experiences in the 1970?s and 80?s plus quotes from demographers and other writers. Whilst the control of fertility through the contraceptive pill has had a big bearing on declining fertility trends, some key thoughts from the book are :

* The pop culture emphasis on feminism, environmentalism and career maintenance, for young women in the 1970?s and 1980?s, treated motherhood as a nuisance that happened while doing other more important things, rather than as a valued societal role.

* The current more affluent lifestyles of double-income couples is a powerful alternative to house-and-kids lifestyle and provides an illusion that fertility can be endlessly deferred because you can buy it later through IVF if body clocks are not working.

The book is mainly targeted at higher socio-economic groups although there is some brief reference from ABS 2001 figures to the 350,000 families where neither parent is employed, within which 20% of children under 15 live and where family size for 25% is more than 3 children.

Posted Sunday, 6 March 2005

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