We CAN have it all! Educated women desperate to have children buck 50 year trend of choosing career over kids
15:12 GMT, 2 May 2012
Modern, educated women are reversing a 50-year trend in feminist behaviour by starting a family rather than remain childless, new economic research shows.
It could mark a new age in which ambitious women begin to realise they do not have to give up raising a family in order to achieve their other goals, it suggests.
For decades, a growing number of women educated to university level have remained childless, often as a result of pursuing a career and independence.
Mums on the run: Figures show a 5 per cent decrease of women with college education remaining childless from the late 90's to now
It started with the baby boomer generations born after the end of the war where women grew up in a society that offered them education, careers and the Pill.
So unlike their own mothers, who had been expected to marry young and become housewives and mothers, they got jobs and put off having children.
In America this led to a peak in the late 1990s of 30 per cent of women with a college education remaining childless, said researchers from Ohio State University.
But in the decade from 1998 to 2008, newly analysed statistics show that figure has fallen to 25 per cent.
Some of this could be medical. Fertility treatment has become more affordable and more reliable allowing women to start a family later in life.
The figures show an increasing number of multiple births – twins and triplets for instance – among educated women, often a sign of fertility treatment.
Other factors could include the economy – women who had planned to have a baby later but find themselves jobless could bring forward their child-raising ambitions.
The study was conducted from US statistics but the trend for educated women remaining childless is a common theme in Western societies.
Modern technology: The decrease is said to be due to fertility treatment becoming more affordable and reliable
Researcher Professor Bruce Weinberg of Ohio State said: “We may be seeing the beginning of a new trend.
“One of the major economic stories of the second half of the 20th century was that highly educated women were working more and having fewer children.
“It is too early to definitively say that trend is over, but there is no doubt we have seen fertility rise among older, highly educated women.”
The figures are still surprising when compared to other economic statistics, he added.
For instance, marriage rates have not increased in line with higher levels of childbirth as analysts would expect.
The report of the study is to appear in the Journal of Population Economics and is based on official US government census and other statistical data.
It found that less educated women are having children earlier than they used to but they are not necessarily having more children.
A growing number of educated women are having children but tend to have them at the ‘end of their childbearing years’.