And the last area from Pew Research’s latest study on women and childlessness: Comparing childless women with those who have borne children.  The study looked at differences in marriage, education, and race. “There are dramatic differences by marital status ..

..between women ages 40-44 who have borne children and those who have not, and some differences by race and educational attainment.”

On the marriage front, more mothers ages 40-44 had ever been married than childless women of the same age: 93% of mothers were or had been married, while 60% of childless women were or had been married.

More childless women ages 40-44 had never been married: 40% of childless women in this age range had never been married as opposed to only 7% of mothers.

On education attainment, more childless women ages 40-44 have a bachelor’s degree or higher: 29% of mothers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 39% of childless women have this degree or higher.  Thirteen percent of childless women have a Master’s or higher, as opposed to 9% of mothers.

On race, the biggest differences are with whites: in the same age range, 40-44, 66% of white women are mothers, and 71% are not. On other ethnicities:  14 % of black women have children and 12 % do not. The same goes for Hispanics. Asian women are close: 6% are mothers, 5% are not.

In a nutshell, the numbers seem to mirror past research–in the 40-44 age range, when compared to women who are mothers, childless women  are less likely to have ever been married or never married at all, tend to have more education, and be white.

With upcoming generations, I am curious to see how these numbers will change.  More women are not getting  married. More are having children out of wedlock.  More are getting higher education. According to the Population Reference Bureau  in 2005, “about 43 percent of women ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college, compared with 35 percent of young men. Between 1970 and 2005, the gender composition has shifted to the extent that women now make up the majority—54 percent—of ..young adults enrolled in college.”

Of parts I-V, what aspects of Pew’s study do you find most interesting? Disturbed by? Encouraged by?

Me, I am curious about the overall numbers. Childless numbers (for women 40-44) may have increased overall in the big picture over the last 25-30 years, but in the last ten have stayed about the same.  Will these numbers “level out” at about 1 in 5 women, and even then, will voluntary/temporary/involuntarily aspects of this 1 in 5 ever be more seriously studied?

I also want to watch the trend of women 40-44 starting to have kids.  If this continues, the Census may very well need to push their standard age higher when looking at childlessness. Either that or get more specific about intent.

I also predict that as education levels rise across race, we will see more increases in “childlessness” on this channel. I don’t want to believe it will remain more of “white” phenom. But this boils down to education, and women of all races being able to attain it at higher levels.


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