7

Reading this question I was struck by an underlying assumption present in some answers that generational length (~25 years) would remain about the same. But the thing is, that may not be the case. In our world, the best time (biologically speaking) for us to have children is fairly young, while the best time for us (psychologically and economically speaking) to have children is significantly older. Having children later increases likelihoods of various complications, genetic disorders, etc.

But in Star Trek, we have two fundamental differences in play. One is advancement of medical technology such that we can assume age of the parent is no longer a limiting factor. The other is economic changes which mean it is no longer more stable to have a child later in life. The limiting factors are therefore when you feel like having a child and what you want to do with your life, what sort of career and personal development you want to have before you have a child. Picard's brother, for example, is clearly a somewhat older gentleman but with a young son. On the other hand, his ambitions were relatively simple- he wanted to run the family vineyard.

So, obviously there are going to be those who want to be a parent early and often. But do we have any sort of commentary about time between generations lengthening in general in the Star Trek universe? Or, alternately, anything to show that the average generational length has remained more or less the same?

  • Are you referring solely to generations of humans, or also to other species? How about mixed marriages / offspring? – steenbergh Mar 22 '16 at 8:46
  • I really don't know anything about the breeding cycles of other species. I'm really interested in information related to Terrans. While inter-species relationship certainly occur, my feeling is that they aren't all that common, at least not enough to necessarily affect the statistics. But if they do, go for it, I'd be curious to read it. – Broklynite Mar 22 '16 at 8:49
  • Like a lot of simple questions it's surprisingly hard to answer. According to this article by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, 30 to 33 years is a more realistic estimate for generational length. – Joe L. Mar 22 '16 at 12:26
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    @Broklynite : My answer to the linked question doesn't depend on any assumptions about generational length. I use the birthdates and ages of actual characters to arrive at my conclusion (just to clarify). :-) – Praxis Mar 22 '16 at 14:24
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    @ab2 I agree (also +1 for Bujold reference) but yet we still seem to see an awful lot of younger looking parents. Then again with their medicine and lifespans perhaps those parents only look young and are actually much older. – Broklynite Mar 22 '16 at 21:08
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Perhaps it has a bit

If we assume, as stated in the question, that a generation is 25 years (perhaps even 30 or so), we might see some evidence that generations have increased in length somewhat by the time of the 24th century.

One of the best examples of this is the O'Briens. We know Molly was born in 2368 (Source). We also know that Miles was 40 then (he was born in 2328 [Source]). We don't actually know how old Keiko is, but let's assume she's a similar age to Miles. So that's a 40-year gap right there. Another interesting aspect about Keiko that is brought up on Memory Alpha is the following:

It's also interesting to note that Keiko's mother was apparently around the age of 60 when she had Keiko (assuming Keiko was not much older than 40 in 2369).

(Source)

Considering the age of Miles, the assumption is quite reasonable. Now, it would be quite unusual by today's standards for a woman to give birth at the age of 60. That's a 60 year gap in the generations there.

The only other major character with a child I can think of off the top of my head is Dr Crusher. Now, she was born in 2324 (Source), whilst Wesley was born in 2348 (Source). This makes Beverly 24 when she had Wesley, which fits in with current ideas of what a generation is.

The other important factor to take into consideration is average lifespan. In the 22nd century, 100 years was the expected lifespan (Source). It's not so farfetched so expect that by the 24th century this might have increased a bit (we see Bones aged 137 in 'Encounter at Farpoint Pt 2').

So, in light of all this, I would conclude that perhaps, the 'age' of a generation has increased somewhat by the 24th century. As people are living longer, the age they can no longer biologically have offspring becomes older, allowing for a given generation to be longer.

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    This seems like a very reasonable answer and I think the best that can be hoped for given the circumstances that this subject hasn't really come up in the show. – Broklynite Mar 23 '16 at 12:42
  • Just saw this. Great answer! :-) – Praxis Mar 24 '16 at 16:39
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    2348 - 2324 = 24 (not 28)... – HorusKol Jun 23 '16 at 4:51
  • @HorusKol so it is! Good pickup and many thanks 😉 – Often Right Jun 23 '16 at 4:52
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    As far as main characters go, there's also Ben Sisko and his son Jake that would also be in this timeframe. No idea what their age gap is. I'm going to assume it's less than 40 years, though. Then there's also Worf and Alexander, but that might be a unique case since Worf and Alexander are (mostly) Klingon, so their generational gap may already be different compared to full humans. – Ellesedil Jun 23 '16 at 6:08

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