A recently published PEW Research Report finds that while childlessness is still on the rise, only women with advanced degrees defy this trend.
Compared to a decade ago, women with master's degrees or more are increasingly choosing to have children. This reversal is most pronounced among women holding PhDs, who are 32% more likely to choose to have kids than a decade ago.
This counter-intuitive finding begs the question: Why are the most educated women reversing the childless trend when historically women with more education have less or no children? And what has changed for these women since the 90’s to make having kids an appealing option once more?
One theory is that companies are taking efforts to retain top female talent. With increased company support and flexibility, women are able to free up the time necessary to start a family.
Another theory is that women who pursue advanced degrees are increasingly opting out of the corporate “rat race” in favor of careers that will offer them more work/life balance. Most revealing of this is the fact that among women holding advanced degrees, those with MBAs are much more likely than lawyers and doctors to drop out of the workforce entirely once they become mothers.
Conversely, the biggest increase in childlessness over the past decade was among women with the least amount of education (high school or less). Due in large part to the jobs available to them, they are increasingly squeezed both for time and money. When finances and time are the two biggest factors one considers before deciding to have children, their predicament is not conducive to raising families.
Bottom line: As the rate of childlessness equalizes the decision to have or not have children becomes more of a voluntary one. For the most educated women, this is an encouraging sign that we’re moving towards a world in which women no longer have to choose between work and family.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this is a sign that women are increasingly exercising their right to choose the circumstances under which they have children. Either way you look at it this is a positive indicator of progress in female empowerment, education and employment.Source