A recent study suggests that the fertility rates among educated women are increasing, breaking the trend of remaining childless to focus on their career.
Qingyan Shang and Bruce A. Weinberg published a study titled “Opting for families: recent trends in the fertility of highly educated women” in Journal of Population Economics, showing that the childlessness rate dropped by five percent between 1998 and 2008.
Around 30 percent of college graduate women remained childless in the late 1990s, but the rate declined to 25 percent ten years later.
“We may be seeing the beginning of a new trend,” said Weinberg.
“One of the major economic stories of the second half of the 20th century was that highly educated women were working more and having fewer children. It is too early to definitively say that trend is over, but there is no doubt we have seen fertility rise among older, highly educated women.”
It was common for educated women after the war to get a job instead of getting married early in their life. This led to high childlessness rate which peaked in the 1990’s.
The rate is decreasing in modern time, and the study suggests medical improvement and economic conditions could have affected the trend. As fertility treatment became more assessable, women are able to start family later in their life. And as jobs are becoming difficult to find, they just simply decide to start a family instead.
Surprisingly, the marriage rate remains low.
The data in the study does not include whether the women stop their work after having a child, or start the family life while continuing to maintain their professional career.
“We don’t have the data in this study to say whether they are opting out of the labor market. But we can say they are increasingly opting for families,” Weinberg said.