Over half (52%) of adults in Ireland believe the ideal age to start a family is between 25 and 30 years of age, with 29.5 years being the ideal average age.
This is one of the main findings of a survey of 1,000 adults from around the country, commissioned by Royal London and conducted by iReach, which examined popular attitudes around family and family finance.
The survey aligns well with Eurostat data published in 2019 which showed that the average age for women in Ireland to have their first child was 30. Thirty six percent of people surveyed think that waiting until you reach your 30s, and being between 31 and 35, might be the ideal scenario – with slightly more women (38%) than men (34%) favouring this approach.
According to figures from the CSO, the average age of first-time mothers in Ireland has increased over the last 30 years by almost five years or 18% from 26 years and four months in 1988 to 31 years and one month in 2018.
In the case for waiting to start a family, the survey points to a major fall-off after age 36 – with just 3% of people (women 2%: men 5%) overall saying it would be their ideal age to start a family. Of course, these are average findings and there’s no doubt that many people’s ideal age to start a family will be higher than age 36. Among the youngest cohort of respondents (18-34), there was a mixed attitude towards the ideal age, with 55% favouring starting a family by 30, and 45% after 30.
The Royal London survey revealed that at the other end of the spectrum, more men than women felt that having a family at a young age was a good idea. 11% of men compared to 6% of women thought starting a family under 25 would be the ideal scenario.
There is also a significant difference between Dublin-based respondents and those in Munster, with five times more people in Munster (16%) than Dublin (3%) believing that starting a family under 25 is the ideal option.