Highly Educated Women Are Having More Babies

Because they can afford it.

mom at work with baby
(Image credit: Archives)

Highly educated women might not find it easy to "have it all," (and, like Maria Shriver, they might even resent that phrase in the first place (opens in new tab)), but a new study shows they seem to be having more of certain things—like kids. According to a study set to be published in The Economic Journal (opens in new tab), women with advanced degrees are having more children than they did in the 1980s. But their income probably has more to do with it than their education, it seems.

According to The Guardian (opens in new tab), economists Moshe Hazan and Hosny Zoabi studied Americans' fertility rates and compared them to women's levels of education. They found that fertility rates among college-educated women in general have stayed flat over the past few decades, but in a smaller subset of women with advanced degrees, fertility rates have gone up by more than 50 percent, from women having 1.2 children on average in 1980 to having an average of 1.96 children today. So why the jump?

The study blames a growing income gap in the American economy. Women with advanced degrees tend to have higher-paying jobs, and are more likely to be higher-class in the first place, since they could afford a college education. This often means they can afford to hire help to raise their kids, so they can have larger families while still working. "By substituting their own time for market services to raise children and run their households, highly educated women are able to have more children and work longer hours," the study's authors wrote (opens in new tab).

On top of that, new technologies that help women have children later in life—after getting all those degrees—have been becoming more effective and more easily available. But while all of these things may make it easier for highly educated women to have more children, how easy it is for them to juggle a professional or academic life post-childbirth—well, that's harder to measure.

Related: IVF: $47,000 Dollars Later, I Have No Baby (opens in new tab)

Related: Birth Rights: Inside the Social Surrogacy Debate (opens in new tab)


Image via Getty

Megan Friedman
Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.