Childbearing inversely related to education level, study finds
New U.S. fertility data suggest that having a higher education isn’t associated with having a big family: Women who are college graduates are likely to have fewer children, if they have them at all, than their less-educated sisters, the Census Bureau said May 9.
“Our findings show that a ‘delayer boom’ is under way, where highly educated women initially delay childbearing, but are more likely to have children into their 30s,” said bureau demographer Kristy Krivickas.
“But these women do not fully catch up to the childbearing levels of women with fewer years of schooling,” she said.
The difference is significant: By the time women reach the 4044 age group, those who didn’t finish high school averaged 2.56 births per 1,000 women, the highest fertility. Women who finished high school or had any college ex-
U.S. fertility reached 2.1 births per woman in the last decade, thanks to rises among both immigrant and native-born women. However, U.S. fertility has now slid to slightly below replacement level.
And while women’s education and labor-force participation are historically tied to lower fertility, recent reports have suggested that Americans have also postponed having children in recent years because of the recession.
In 20 of 25 states where data were available, the number of births declined or leveled off in 2008, when per-capita incomes, housing prices and employment figures all fell as well, Pew Research Center said in a 2010 report.
While future fertility trends are not assured, some people, such as W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia and president of Demographic Intelligence, expect childbearing to increase in
Among never-married women in their early 40s, nearly 70 percent of white women and 66 percent of Asian women were childless. However, only 36 percent of never-married Hispanic women and 28 percent of never-married black women had also never given birth by their early 40s.