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The general fertility rate declined to 64.8 births per 1,000 women in 2002. The birth rates among older mothers ages 35-44 continued to increase, while rates for women in their twenties and early thirties declined or remained stable. Birth rates for teenagers have fallen steadily in the past decade and reached a record low in 2002.

Among 2002 births, almost 11 percent were to women under 20, over half to women in their twenties, one-third to women in their thirties, and about 2.5 percent to women in their forties and early fifties. The average age of women having their first birth in 2002 was 25.1 years, the highest yet recorded. The average age at first birth has risen from 21.4 years in 1970.

Among both Black and White women, over half of births in 2002 were to women in their twenties. The proportion of births that were to women under 20 years of age were higher among Black (18.0 percent) than White (9.7 percent) women. White births were more likely to be to women in their thirties, forties and early fifties.

Graph: Percent Distribution of Births by Maternal Age and Race: 2002[d]