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Women’s lives — perhaps more than the lives of men — have changed markedly over the past 50 years. More are going into higher education and delaying partnerships and marriage today in order to develop their careers. This has had a major impact on families and households. One indicator of such changes is the fertility rate for women in different age categories in England and Wales (see Figure 1). More women aged 40 years and over have been choosing to have children, while for women in their 20s, fertility rates have been falling fairly consistently since the 1960s. Women aged 30 to 34 years have had the highest fertility rate of any age group since 2004. Prior to this, women aged 25 to 29 years generally had the highest rate. All this indicates that women are progressively delaying childbearing. Figure 1 shows various ‘spikes’ in fertility rates since 1938. Can you explain why?
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