New Data on Childlessness Part II: Education

childlessness

Continuing from Part I on with new data on the numbers of childless women put out by the Pew Research Center, (based mainly on combined 2006-2008 data  from the June fertility supplement of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey), let’s look at specific results on the education variable, which includes some interesting trends. 

As has been the case in previous studies since the 90’s women who do not have children tend to be highly educated. From the Pew study, 24% of women 40-44 with a bachelor’s degree did not have children; 25% with a master’s degree did not have children, and 23% with a doctorate or a professional degree, such as a medical or legal degree did not have children.

However, since “the 1990s, rates of childlessness have risen most sharply for the least educated women.” From 1994 to 2008, the likelihood of women with less than a high school diploma not having children rose 66 percent. “Rates rose less steeply over the same time period among high school graduates and women with some college but not a degree,” and women 40-44 “with a bachelor’s degree, there has been essentially no change in the likelihood of being childless.”

A most interesting finding though — In 1994, 31% of women 40-44 with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree had no children. In 2008, it dropped to 24 percent.

Another way of saying this is–there seems to be a trend of more women in their early 40s with higher degrees starting to have children.  This goes along with the existing trend that women are waiting longer to have children, and in this case longer still.

To what degree do you think this reflects:

Women who have wanted them all along and at that age feel it is “fish or cut bait” time?

Women who may have not wanted children earlier in their careers, changed their minds as they got older, and reached a “fish or cut bait” time?

Do you think this trend will continue? Why or why not?

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