Season of life: Educated, married moms more likely to have first baby in the spring

EXETER, England — Springtime is a period of rebirth and new life for mother nature, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that many American moms-to-be aim to have their first child in the spring. Researchers from Exeter University say that educated and married American women are more likely to time their first pregnancy so that they give birth during the spring months.

Overall, the study provides first-time evidence that a U.S. first-born baby’s probability of being born in the spring is directly linked to their mother’s level of education, age, marital status, and smoking habits.

According to the researchers’ findings, if it were possible to pay a fee in order to guarantee a spring birth, on average a married American woman (aged 20-45) would pay $877 to ensure their first child is born within that time frame.

“Our work has discovered that there really is a desire to give birth in the spring in the US,” says Professor of Economics Sonia Oreffice in a release. “This is often to do with the health of mom and baby because spring and summer are the furthest away from the peak of influenza cases and other germs.”

“Knowing parents are making these choices for their first child, coupled with the fact that overall the most prevalent birth season is summer, helps policy-makers to better design policies targeting job flexibility, parenthood and child health and development,” she adds.

The analysis was performed via collected U.S. birth certificates, census data, and a series of surveys given to mothers. Specifically, the researchers were interested in mothers‘ choices regarding when to have their first child. They focused on first-born children because, in the authors’ own words, there are often a far wider range of contributing factors that come into play when parents decide to have a second or third child.

“We also found that women in certain occupations – teachers, library workers and those in the training sector were more likely to aim for a spring baby,” comments Professor Oreffice. “We believe this is because women are trying to link their summer vacation to their short U.S. maternity leave in order to spend more time with their baby.”

Additionally, it was noted that unmarried mothers who hadn’t listed a father’s name at all on their child’s birth certificate did not show the same propensity towards preferring a spring birth. This observation led researchers to conclude that these types of pregnancies are often the most likely to be unplanned. Mothers who had used a form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization, also didn’t appear to pursue spring time births.

The study is published in the Journal of Applied Econometrics.

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