Or: Why economists like those little Miss Steaks.
Amalia Miller, an economist at the University of Virginia, studied the timing of maternity and its effect on earnings. That effect is large: delay maternity by just one year and you can expect your career earnings to rise by 10 per cent, partly because you will work longer hours and partly because you will enjoy a better wage rate. For professionals like you, the wage effect is even higher.UPDATE: See also this new CBO study, The Effect of a First Child on Female Labor Supply: Evidence from Women Seeking Fertility Services, by Julian P. Cristia.
These numbers strip out the effects of choice, because they are all based on accidents. Professor Miller made three types of comparison. She compared women who became mothers at 27 with those who became mothers at 28 despite both groups using contraception and therefore not choosing the timing. She also compared women who successfully got pregnant at 27 with women who tried at 27 but did not succeed for a year; or women who miscarried at 27 and then got pregnant again a year later. The women wanted the same date of pregnancy but bad luck intervened - and their careers benefited.
Professor Miller’s results suggest that you should leave your pregnancy as late as you dare. Her methods remind you, though, that you may not get to decide.