An increasing number of highly educated women are opting for families, according to a national study co-authored by a University at Buffalo economist.
Qingyan Shang, an assistant professor at UB, says the study uncovers what may be the reversal of a trend by highly educated women.
She says it is still too early to be certain, but the research clearly shows fertility rising for older, highly educated women since the 1990s. (Fertility is defined as the number of children a woman has had.) Childlessness also declined by roughly 5 percentage points between 1998 and 2008.
"Women born in the late 1950s are the turning point," said Shang.
Members of this group initially showed low fertility. But Shang said fertility increased for those members in their late 30s and early 40s.
The paper, co-authored by Bruce A. Weinberg, professor of economics at Ohio State University, appears online in the Journal of Population Economics and will be published in a forthcoming print edition.
Shang said two previous studies which examined fertility among highly educated women had limitations and came to conflicting conclusions.
One study focused only on women in their late 20s. Another study examined fertility for women in managerial positions.
Using a sample of professional women makes the results difficult to interpret because women who have more children may switch to other occupations, according to Shang.
"We did a more comprehensive study," said Shang. "We instead define the sample using education, which is less responsive to short-term fertility decisions."
The conclusions are derived from data gathered by the June Current Population Survey, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers also used the Vital Statistics Birth Data from the National Center for Health Statistics as a second data set.
While the research did not directly address what factors might be contributing to the fertility increase, "We did list some possible explanations based on previous research," said Shang.
Shang mentioned the idea of "the learning story," where the decisions of previous generations inform later decisions by subsequent generations. There has also been an increased supply of personal services that have reduced childcare expenses. Other research shows men may be taking more responsibility for child care.
Shang and Weinberg also could not determine whether women are opting for families instead of their careers or in addition to their 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."
The researchers discovered an increase in multiple birth rates around 1990, suggesting fertility treatments may have played a role.
"The data does not include information about whether women used fertility treatment," Shang said. "But we use the trends in plural birth rates to impute the share of the increase in fertility among highly educated women that is attributed to fertility treatment."
Shang said the study shows that fertility would have increased even in the absence of fertility treatments.
Bert Gambini | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy