IVF, egg-freezing and other fertility-related businesses are growing year-on-year.
In England and Wales, three-quarters of women aged 25 and under don't have any children. That's a bigger proportion than in the past. Indeed, the average age for first-time mums (and the number of women who never have children) has been going steadily up for the past 60-odd years.
There’s a bunch of reasons for this, including successful campaigns to reduce teenage pregnancy and a trend towards partnering up and settling down later in life. But a big factor is work. It’s not just that women are more likely to be employed now than they were half a century ago. It’s that they’re much more likely to have a full-time, high-responsibility, high-income job. They’re also less likely to be subjected to overt sexist harassment, and more likely to be able to access a career of their choosing and given opportunities to advance.
Another way to put this is that work is often more valuable to women than it was in the past. Theses days, women (and their partners, families or other dependents) are more likely to rely on their income to make ends meet or maintain their current standard of living. They’re also more likely to see work as a way to improve their emotional wellbeing. For example, they may feel pride for workplace achievements, or enjoy making social connections with colleagues.
This increase in the value women put on working changes their economic calculation of having a kid, because it’s well known that pregnancy and motherhood tend to negatively impact a women’s career opportunities and earning potential. It’s therefore increasingly common for wannabe-mommas to spend a few decades prioritising work before turning their attention to the whole kid business.
One issue with that approach is that most women’s fertility starts to decline as they age. But this in turn creates a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies who sell stuff that help less fertile women get pregnant. Around the world, these businesses already make $25 billion, and are tipped to make $41 billion in 2026.
Read our explainer on: human capital.