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Highly Educated Women Now Want Children

Update Date: May 03, 2012 12:02 PM EDT

The trend of educated women to remain childless is changing, a recent study suggests.

A study by Qingyan Shang and Bruce A. Weinberg showed that fertility is increasing among women with college degree as they are opting more for families. Around 30 percent of college graduate women remained childless in the late 1990s, but the rate declined to 25 percent between 1998 and 2008.

“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.”

When women started to receive proper education after the war, they tended to delay their marriage and got jobs instead. This led to high rates of childlessness which peaked in the late 1990’s.

But the rate of childlessness among educated women is dropping, despite the fact that marriage rate remains low.

Some of the suggested reasons for the dropping rate include improvement in medical technology and the economic condition. More accessible fertility treatment could have allowed women to start family later in their life, or not finding a suitable job could have made them to decide on family life instead.

The study does not say whether the educated women stop their work to focus on family or raise children 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.

The study was published under the title “Opting for families: recent trends in the fertility of highly educated women” in Journal of Population Economics.

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