In the past, lower education levels were connected to lower levels of childlessness among women. A recent study comes to contradict that belief. Data published by Pew Research suggests that motherhood is becoming more attractive even in the case of women with advanced degrees.
Over the past two decades, childlessness among highly educated women has decreased drastically. 20 years ago, 35 percent of women with MD’s and Ph.D.’s had not become mothers. Nowadays, that number decreased to 20 percent.
And while a larger number of educated US women are deciding to have families, there are also shifts in the sizes of their respective families. In the case of women with postgraduate degrees aged 40 to 44, only 23 percent have one child (as opposed to more) compared to 28 percent in 1994.
Family sizes are also increasing. The same study suggests that six in ten women choose to have more than one child. In 2014, 27 percent of educated mothers aged 40 to 44 had three or more children as opposed to 22 percent in 1994.
Societal, ethnic and demographic factors influenced the average family size. Eleven percent of Caucasian women and 10 percent of Asian women had four or more children. The situation changed in the case of other ethnicities: 20 percent of Hispanic women and 18 percent of African-American women had at least four children.
Researchers wanted to exclude potential confounding factors and thus excluded race and age.
The study’s results suggest that, nowadays, having both a successful career and a fulfilled family life are not mutually exclusive. Juggling work and family is getting easier and mothers are now able to find a manageable equilibrium between the both.
Moreover, men are becoming more supportive when it comes to household activities. Dividing responsibilities and chores fairly among both partners contribute to an increased sense of confidence in women who dare to return sooner to their jobs.
Of course, other demographical factors should be taken into consideration. The overall number of female postgraduates has increased. In 1994, only one tenth of women had at least one master’s degree as compared to 2014, when 14 percent of US women did.
A noteworthy addition, though, is that despite this recent difference, childlessness is still on the rise. Since the 1970’s, there’s a steady increase in the average age at which women choose to have their first child.
Researcher used data provided by the US Census Bureau as well as census tabulations and established the end of a woman’s childbearing years as starting with age 40.
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