A study conducted by Pew Research Center and the Census Bureau says that fewer women in the US are childless in their 40s. The most significant drop was noticed in the case of women who had master’s or doctorates degrees. In 1994 30% of the women with higher education were childless, whereas last year the number reached 22%.
The research analyzed the women’s educational background in connection with motherhood. The study also took into account factors such as age and race. The overall conclusion was that motherhood likelihood is higher in the categories where so far it had been stagnating.
This change was most likely caused by demographic and societal changes and it seems to coincide with the fact that an increased number of women occupy managerial and leadership positions. According to the findings of the study only one in five women with ages between 40 and 44 and with a master’s degree or higher has no children. The change is more dramatic in the case of women with an M.D or Ph.D. While in 1994 35% had no children, at present the number has dropped at 20%.
In the case of highly educated women the size of the family was also increased. Six in ten women have at least two children. It seems that the intersection of the family roles make women be more courageous when it comes to children. If the household responsibilities and chores are equally divided women are more likely to feel comfortable and have a sense of security regarding the balance between their work life and personal life.
The report suggested that ethnicity and race play an important part in the increase or decline of childlessness, but societal and demographic factors should not be analyzed separately. The impact of the societal factors on this trend was not well represented in the report.
The study was based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s June Supplement of the Current Population Survey. Since public use data was not available before 1986 this type of data was taken from census tabulations. In the report any woman who has given birth was defined as mother, whereas women who have not had any children were defined as childless. The end of the childbearing years was established in the report as begin the ages between 40 and 44. This is the typical convention because of the fact that a small number of women have babies after these ages.
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