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!
Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy