It’s one of the most irritating myths of modern life, the career woman so busy she ‘forgot’ to have children. But new evidence this week suggests it’s not work but something closer to home driving many of us to defy the biological clock.
One in five childless 31 to 44-year-olds say they’re delaying having kids because of high house prices and rocketing rents, a poll for the housing charity Shelter has found. Their lives are on hold because they literally can’t afford to settle down - at least not until the age when it’s harder to conceive.
It’s easy to say these couples should just forget about the property ladder and make babies while they can. But sadly, life’s not that simple.
It’s natural to want to feel settled and secure before having kids, rather than reliant on some landlord’s whim (or still living with your parents). And there’s a practical reason for putting mortgage before motherhood too: after all, if you don’t scrape together a deposit now, how will you ever do it when half your salary’s going on nursery fees? What this survey shows is just why the argument now raging within government over a possible new programme of housebuilding this autumn matters. Tackling the chronic housing shortage that keeps prices so high in this country matters for human as well as economic reasons, because a house is never just a house: it’s a home, and potentially somewhere to raise a family. And that’s something no politician who claims to value family life should forget.
By Gaby Hinsliff
Read Gaby's column every week in Grazia