#46 – Random Things I Learned on the Stats Canada website

OK, this posting has been sitting in my Drafts folder since FOREVER.  I started writing it and it started going sideways and there’s really no point to it.  It’s just a bunch of random stuff. A post in which I meander through things, not making any coherent argument.  Also, it, like many of my postings today, isn’t about my supposed theme, Stuff Books Taught Me, but rather stuff that the Stats Canada website taught me (although that’s kind of bookish).  Anyway, it’s late in the Blogathon now and I’ve been tweaking it when I’ve had a spare minute here and today. So I’m thinking that it’s now somewhat passable as a blog posting and I figure you’ll forgive me for not making any sense.

So I was tooling around on the StatsCan website1 the other day2. I wanted to know what the average age of people having their first kid is these days, and how this compares to the average age of people having their first kid in my parents’ generation. My mom and dad were 28 and 30, respectively, when they had my sister and 30 and 32 when they had me and it seems that, compared to most of my friends’ parents, they were pretty damn old. For their generation. But I’m 31323and very few of my friends have babies, or are planning to have babies in the next few years even4. So it seems that the average age of having one’s kids has increased in the last generation. But I’m a scientist and hence, love evidence, so I figured a trip to the StatsCan website would show me if what I thought was true is, well, true. And it seems to be, but reading through some of the info there, and elsewhere, I noticed something. It’s rather difficult to find info on fathers.

First off, the average age of women having kids in Canada has, in fact, increased in the last 25 years:

Average age of women giving birth in 1980 was 25.9
Average age of women giving birth in 2005 was 29.25


Women aged 30 to 34 had the highest proportion of births in 2005… 31.4% of total births.5

The only information I was able to find on dads, though, was categorized by moms:

“In 1983, women in their 30s and older accounted for only 14% of live births to first-time mothers. By 1999, this proportion had more than doubled to 32%.

The story was similar for the fathers of babies born to first-time mothers. In 1983, men in their 30s and older fathered 32% of the babies of first-time mothers. By 1999, that had risen to 51%.”6

Why is it reported like this? Why not the average age at which men have their first kid? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that paternity is not 100% certain, whereas maternity is? And I’m not a statistician – maybe this info is on Stats Canada and I just don’t know where to look for it?

Data from the 2003 US census7 shows that the birth rate of women aged 30 to 34 years in the US reached its highest rate since 1964, at 95.1 births per 1,000 and that the “birth rates by age of mother peak at age 25–29 years (115.6 births per 1,000 women).” This report goes on to report birth rates for women broken down by, for example, ethnicity… by level of education attainment… by level of education attainment broken down by ethnicity… and a bunch of info on rates of births among unmarried mothers. Oh my, unmarried mothers! For shame!8

Now, here’s the information from the same report7 on dads:

“Birth rates for males aged less than 25 years continued to decline; birth rates for fathers aged 15–19 and 20–24 years posted all-time lows of 16.9 and 73.5 per 1,000, respectively. Birth rates increased for men in the 25–54-year age groups and were unchanged for men aged 55 and over.”

So, page after page of data on moms, but only one short paragraph on dads. And men aged 25-54 were just all lumped in together? And though it tells us that the birth rate for men in the age group “increased,” it doesn’t tell us what that rate actually is, nor how much it increased…. unless I want to flip back to page 57 to find the table with this data. Apparently it’s not worth including this in the text. However, this report does mention that “Information on age of father is often missing on birth certificates of children born to women less than 25 years of age and to unmarried women”7 – supporting my hypothesis that information on fathers is harder to get than mothers, since maternity is always certain at birth.

As is often the case when I’m goofing off on the web, I go to a site for one particular thing – in this case, the average age of people having kids – and then I start looking up all kinds of random shit. The next thing that came to mind was stats on divorces, what with being divorced and all.

“Most Canadians marry once and only once, and less than 1% walk down the aisle more than twice, according to a new study.

In the case of a second marriage, Canadians who were in their 40s when they remarried faced only half as great a risk of marital dissolution than those who were under 30. Even those who remarried in their 30s had a 27% lower risk of breaking up.”9

So that’s kind of nice news for those who are divorced should we ever consider marrying again. I used to volunteer with a women back when I lived in Ontario who was happily married in her second marriage and who used to refer to her first marriage as her “practice marriage” – I thought it was pretty funny.

In addition to being a divorcée, and you might not know this about me because I hardly ever mention it or lord it over everyone or anything ;-), I have a PhD. Also, I like to be unique. So I decided to look up how unique having a PhD makes me. And I found this:

  • In 2001, there were 128,625 with a doctorate in Canada. The population of people over 15 years of age (from which this data was drawn) was 23,901,360. That’s half a percent of the population that have PhDs10 – yeah, I think that’s rare enough!
  • On average, doctoral graduates took about 70 months, or five years and 10 months, to complete their program… This usually followed four years at the undergraduate level and two to three more years at the master’s level.” – Mine was just a few weeks shy of six years, but when you consider that I did my Master’s degree in just one year, instead of the two to three cited here, I like to think this makes me above average
  • Also making me above average is my age of graduation – “On average, PhD graduates were about 36 years old when they graduated. Slightly over half (55%) were between 30 and 39, while 24% were 40 or older, and 20% were 29 or younger”11I was 29 when I got my PhD, making me 7 years younger than the average.
  • Making me much worse than average: “Slightly over half (56%) of all doctoral graduates completed their program without owing any money directly related to their graduate education. Of those who were carrying debt directly related to their graduate studies, about 41% reported owing $10,000 or less, 27% owed between $10,000 and $20,000, and 32% owed more than $20,000”11. Mine was, if I recall correctly, about half ($35K) for undergrad and the other half for grad school. It may have been a bit more for undergrad and a bit less for grad, but not by much.

Making me rare, but I wish it weren’t:

For every woman who held a doctorate in either science or engineering in Canada in 2001, there were four men, according to a new study that profiles scientists and engineers with PhDs.12

Since only 128,625  Canadians have a PhD and women only make up 1/4 of that (i.e., about 32,000 women), assuming that half of Canada’s population (~15 million)  is female, doesn’t that meanthat I’m in the 0.2% of females with a PhD?

Also in the same report:

The study found that for each age group, the earnings of females with science or engineering PhDs were significantly lower than those of their male counterparts. For every dollar earned by a male doctorate holder, female doctorate holders earned 77 cents. In contrast, a woman in the general labour force earned 71 cents for every dollar earned by a man.12


The earnings gap between young women and men only declined moderately during the 1990s, despite a dramatic increase in the proportion of young women holding a university degree, according to a new study.

From 1991 to 2001, the proportion of 25- to 29-year-old women holding a university degree went from 21% to 34%. In contrast, the proportion of 25- to 29-year-old men holding a university degree only rose moderately over the period, from 16% in 1991 to 21% in 2001.

Despite the sharp increase in the proportion of young women with a university degree and the fact that university degree-holders generally earn more than other workers, the gender earnings gap only declined slightly over the period.

Specifically, women aged 25 to 29 earned 20% less than men in 1991. By 2001, the gap had narrowed slightly to 18%. Virtually all of this decline was related to the rising educational attainment of young women.

One reason why the earnings gap only declined slightly in the 1990s, despite the rapidly rising educational attainment among young women, is that the gap among university graduates actually increased over the period. It went from 12% in 1991 to 18% in 2001.

This was largely the result of real wage declines in female-dominated disciplines, such as health and education, and real wage increases in male-dominated disciplines, such as engineering, mathematics, computer sciences and physical sciences.13

OK, that’s all I have. As you can see, I was totally phoning it in with the long quotations by the end of this, and there’s no coherent message.  Which is why I never got around to posting it before now.

1What, you don’t read info on stats just for fun?
2Where “the other day,” by the time I’m posting this, is probably like 6 or 8 months ago!
3OK, see, the draft had 31, which means it had to have been at least 6 months ago when I started writing this, but I just turned 32 and a half.
4OK, again, this is something that has changed since I started writing this posting. Now that I work out in the suburbs, *everyone* I work with has babies. So maybe it’s just the city people I hang around with that are baby-free into their 30s.
8Um, ya, that’s me being sarcastic.

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Comments |3|

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  • I think you're right; university educated women do wait longer to have kids (in Canada, anyway). We marry later, too.

    My parents had me at 28 and 31, respectively, so they were the same ages as your parents when they had Nancy. Our Moms had professional jobs pre-baby, so perhaps that helped with the delay.

    Word on the 'everyone in their 30s has kids now'. It's like a mini-babyboom! I only have 2 friends (both named Sarah) who had kids in their 20s – one at nearly 28 and one at nearly 29. The rest of us – 30s. Finishing school, marrying later/not at all, and career stuff all (anecdotally, anyway) led to this.


  • I'm not sure if you know this, but I love stats. Granted, the stats I love fall more into the realm of equations and symbols and wonderfully awesometastic greek letters. However, I also loves me tables of numbers that tell a story.

    Anyway, I did notice one thing when reading this.

    “For every woman who held a doctorate in either science or engineering in Canada in 2001, there were four men, according to a new study that profiles scientists and engineers with PhDs.”

    That would mean that 1/5 PhDs are women, not 1/4. Hence, you are even more rare! 1/5*128625=25725 women in Canada with PhDs.

    Sunday morning fun with numbers (from the future). WOOT.


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