Fertility increases for older moms


Increasingly, highly educated women are opting for families. This is according to a national study co-authored by a University at Buffalo economist. According to Qingyan Shang, this may be a reversal of a trend by highly educated women.

The research is on-going and it may be too early to come to a conclusion, but research shows fertility rising for older, highly educated women since the 1990s. “Women born in the late 1950s are the turning point,” said Shang.

Initially women in this group showed low fertility. Shang identified a point though where fertility increased for those members in their late 30s and early 40s. Two previous studies which examined fertility among highly educated women had limitations and conflicting conclusions. One study looked at women in their 20s and another for women in managerial positions so they were too limited to make broad conclusions. “We did a more comprehensive study,” explained Shang. “We instead define the sample using education, which is less responsive to short-term fertility decisions.”

The research did not identify what factors might be contributing to the fertility increase. There were some possible explanations. Shang mentioned the idea of the “learning story,” where the decisions of previous generations inform later decisions by subsequent generations. There has been an increase in the availability of affordable child care. Men may also be taking more responsibility for children. The study also did not show the relationship to career, whether women are giving up careers. “We know these women are opting for families,” said Shang. “We don’t know if they in turn are opting out of the labor market.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Population Economics


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