American women born from about 1915-1925 jumped on birth control pills with both hands and a foot

Women who were in their late 30s and early 40s in 1960 when the Pill came along rushed out to keep from having a third-order or higher child.  The drops happened within less than five years of the Pill’s appearance and were especially sharp for the women avoiding a 6th, 7th and 8th+ (all births after 8th are in one category of 8 or more) birth.  The births of third and fourth children recovered a little and flattened out briefly as younger cohorts of women aged into that 35-44 age range, but then continued the drop even more steeply.  The CDC graphed the declines in page 5 of their 1975 National Vital Statistics Report.

The early 1960s were pre-internet, household goods productions still sometimes was competitive with store-made goods,  and food was still pretty expensive.  But once women born in the wake of World War I had the chance to not keep having babies up until menopause, they jumped on it, despite living in what was in many ways still a more “authentic” lifestyle by the standards of many modern conservatives with rose colored memories or film-only knowledge of the era.  There was a lot of stuff going on in the 1960s and 1970s politically and socially, but average people weren’t political then, just as they are not now.  And if so many women who already had large families were jumping on the chance to not have yet another baby, it’s important to understand why and that the why was probably not for politicized reasons.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “American women born from about 1915-1925 jumped on birth control pills with both hands and a foot

    • You Know Who,

      I was just about to post that very same song! (It came out in 1975.)

      Loretta was the second of eight children, a 15-year-old bride, and she had had six children herself, several in her teens.

      Here are their birth years:

      –1948
      –1949
      –1951
      –1952
      –1964 (twins–Loretta was 32)

      In the part of my family I know best, my grandma was one of 8 children. She married just before turning 21, had three immediate postwar babies, spaced just over a year apart–then NOTHING. From then on down, my extremely conservative family on that side has had a range of 2-4 children. There are nine grandchildren (including two adopted steps) and probably 16 great-grandchildren (including one adopted)–with all of the grandchildren still being theoretically of an age to have more children.

      So, yes–not a political thing at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. TPC said:

    “And if so many women who already had large families were jumping on the chance to not have yet another baby, it’s important to understand why and that the why was probably not for politicized reasons.”

    I’ll take a stab at one possible reason.

    The 1950s and early 1960s were an era when a woman’s housewifely virtue was judged primarily by the cleanliness and tidiness of her home, rather than by the amount of time and effort she invested in her children. Hence, having little children at home all day would make it harder to be an ideal 1950s/1960s wife.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maea said:

        “The way you’ve described it sounds like homemaking was a form of “careerism,” domestic-style.”

        Yes, I think that’s pretty much how the ideal was lived by many women. My grandma obviously enjoyed it very much. Also, there was a very high level of community involvement, which was helped a lot by the fact that people’s homes were expected to be ready for company. As far as I can gather, my grandma was involved in the following: the Republican party, the John Birch Society (grandma was intent on fighting the communist menace in Western WA), Garden Club, PTA, normal church stuff, and probably a thing or two that I am forgetting.

        It was a very social world. Robert Putnam documents this very thoroughly in Bowling Alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @AmyP:

        How much did larger families affect socializing back then? From my knowledge, the “social life” revolved around family gatherings and church. You know, baptisms, birthdays, confirmations, etc. I’ve heard it’s busy with a family of 8 to manage baptisms and confirmations alone.

        Like

      • Interesting you say that, Maea – “homemaking as a form of careerism”. My mother was the wife of a business executive and that really was a job (which is also why she had so much household help overseas). There were a lot of expectations on her (she was fine with that), but yep – it was in many ways a job.

        Like

      • Yes Maeve, I’ve read those stories too. Often a wife is the wife of a man who has a business from home, and she’s tasked with helping him. There’s no room for her to make her own goods and clothes if she has to take over when he’s away or needs assistance. It was a common practice during the Middle Ages too, and sometimes these households could afford servants (which the wife had to manage).

        If a husband’s role in life requires his wife to take on being on a committee, charity, women’s ministry at church, etc. it leaves little room to have many children, or attend to domestic duties. Was this memory-holed or something?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maea said:

    “How much did larger families affect socializing back then? From my knowledge, the “social life” revolved around family gatherings and church. You know, baptisms, birthdays, confirmations, etc. I’ve heard it’s busy with a family of 8 to manage baptisms and confirmations alone.”

    I’m not a cradle Catholic so I don’t have any information on that.

    From my Protestant, small-family 1950s/1960s relatives, I suspect that the small family of the era was part of the recipe that made the high civic involvement of the 1950s/1960s possible. My grandma did have a crony (another very energetic and involved woman) who was Catholic and a mother of six, but that was very notable and unusual in our small town.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maea said:

    “If a husband’s role in life requires his wife to take on being on a committee, charity, women’s ministry at church, etc. it leaves little room to have many children, or attend to domestic duties. Was this memory-holed or something?”

    Pretty much.

    Like

Comments are closed.