Monday, October 3, 2011

Are educated women more likely to be childless?

“A College Degree as Contraceptive,” published on the Discover Magazine site, includes some interesting statistics. A study by the Pew Research Center found that about one quarter of all women with bachelor’s degrees and higher in the United States never have children.

The rate of childlessness among professional women is also higher than average. A Center for Work-Life Policy study showed that 43 percent of the women in their sample of corporate professionals between the ages of 33 and 46 were childless. Among the Asian American professional women in the study, the rate of childlessness was 53 percent.

Many studies have shown similar numbers. It appears that the more education a woman has, the less likely she is to have children. Also the more money she has. The same article reports that poor women in the U.S. are five times more likely than higher-income women to have an unplanned pregnancy, and six times more likely to have an unplanned birth.

Interesting, yes? There is speculation that poor, uneducated women have less access to information, contraception, and health care. Maybe they simply don’t see as many choices for their lives. When I was finishing high school, it looked like my family would not be able to afford to send me to college. The theory was that I would just get married and have children anyway, so I didn’t really need a college education.

As it turned out, I did make it to community college and then to a university, and I did not have children. I wound up divorced and grateful I had a career to support me. When I remarried, I continued to work, and I still did not have children. My dad is probably still trying to figure out how he wound up having granddogs instead of grandchildren.

My best friend and I were the only young women on our block who did not get pregnant out of wedlock before the age of 21. We were also the only ones who went beyond high school degrees. Is there a connection?

Perhaps those of us who go to college delay childbearing during the years when women who aren’t in school are starting their families. Or maybe there’s some truth to the cliche that “career women” are too devoted to their jobs to deal with babies. Of course this doesn’t even address the issue of husbands who can’t or won’t father their children.

Why do you think more educated, professional women are childless? I’d love to hear your comments.
Just for fun:
Remember the Savvy Auntie? We have talked here before about the “Savvy Auntie” book and website. Author Melanie Notkin has a fantastic article on the subject in today’s Huffington Post. If you’re feeling blue about not having children, read this and give yourself a boost.


Lily Pad said...

I think your take could be upside down. Maybe not that educated women are less likely to have kids, it's just that UNeducated women are more likely to settle for second best men earlier in their lives!

Anonymous said...

Although it may seem true, but thinking of my group-mates from university, I have got half of them having children, another half - some working, travelling and enjoying their lives (still have time and clock isnt ticking) and only me, I guess, is struggling to have one. Maybe its true - that while we are studying other girls just make the families and babies...