• Mon, May 7 2012

College-Educated Career Women No Longer Childless Crones

college-educated womenWomen who dared to prioritize an education or career before family may have earned a spinster label once upon a time. Even contemporary films never fail to represent career-oriented childless women as cold and unfeeling monsters incapable of looking up from their BlackBerries. But times they definitely are a changin’, as new research reveals that these women are having babies after all.

In what philly.com describes as a “a turnaround from previous decades,” childlessness in college-educated women in their late 30s and early 40s fell by 5% between 1998 and 2008. Bruce Weinberg, an economics professor at Ohio State University and the co-author of the study, says that these findings break with the cultural narrative of career-minded women often sacrificing having children:

“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.”

Weinberg speculates that although fertility treatments are a factor in this shift, they don’t entirely account for it. But considering that marriage is now being perpetuated by the upper-class, the same socioeconomic class that is procuring these degrees and obtaining these careers, a delay on motherhood could easily factor into that privileged timeline.

(photo: olly/ Shutterstock)

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  • Lastango

    Before cheering, I would want to know if, in Weinberg’s study, these educated women having children are married or not. Here’s something disturbing from another recent article:

    “The share of women in their late 20s, 30s, and early 40s that have not been married is increasing,” said Weinberg in a phone interview. “That marriage rates are going down makes it more surprising that we find an increase in fertility rates, because never-been-married women are [conventionally] much, much less likely to have children than women who are or have been married.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/older-women-are-having-more-children-whether-theyre-married-or-not/256672/

    Even NYT articles admit that single-parent children have a rough go of it, and a significantly higher frequency of negative outcomes than children from stable two-parent homes. (By stable, I mean married couples… because unmarried couples with children break up at a high rate and their relationships don’t last as long.)

    • Map63

      Two parent household does not equate to stability. What equates to stability is a loving home where children are cared for, provided for, encouraged, and educated. Generally, a single parent home may be less stable as its harder to provide for children without the built in help of an additional parent, but if these ladies can provide for their children without struggling, who cares. Hopefully the highly educated start procreating at a faster pace.

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  • T.

    Before saying this is a “good” things, I would like to know if, and in case how much, college-degree women unemployment and under-employment has risen as well.
    I have a nagging feeling that this is less because educated women really WANT to have children and more because they have been kicked out of their job, or get jobs below they qualification.
    And it is well know that on-the-fence (about children) women tend to have children when they carriers are not going as they wished.

    Depression and recessions often created “baby boom”. And, for the same reasons, many unemployed people have many children.

    Sorry, but more statistics are needed to certifie if this is a “good new” or a bad, bad one.

    • college to career

      Well in today’s society the children bother to be a obstacle to a mother or a woman in her career as the women of today are more compatible to handle multi-tasks in office as well as in home.
      (http://www.smashthecurve.com/about/)

    • T.

      @By college to career My question was essentially statistical. It may be that indeed more college women are choosing to have children for the reason you mentioned… Or it might be because they have been sacked and/or can’t find another job and/or are working in job below their qualifications. If you have a college degree and only find minimum-wage job, you are more likely to have a child than if you have a college degree and are working to build a career. It might seem counter-intuictive, but having a child is often a way to fill a gap, to give your life a sense of purpose.

      Note that this is a survey purely on the level of education of the woman. It says nothing about whenever that woman has or not a job or what job it is.