According to 2009 census figures, for the first time women are just as likely as men to have completed college and to have an advanced degree. Women represent about half of those in the U.S. who have a master’s degree or higher, largely due to more women pursuing medical and law degrees. And at current rates,
women could pass men in total advanced degrees this year. In fact, according to mark Perry and economics professor at the University of Michigan, “It won’t be long before women dominate higher education and every degree up to Ph.D.”
Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, thinks that while the trend is positive, “persistent wage discrimination..is driving women to get higher education.” While this remains an issue, the stats themselves make me wonder about how this might impact the numbers of the childfree. Stats over time have shown that in general, the higher the education the fewer children a woman has. A New York Times article just a couple of years ago reported on a study that indicated that women with advanced degrees were “more likely to be childless.” Of women 40 to 44 with graduate or professional degrees, 27 percent were childless. So if more women continue to get advanced degrees, will this childless number increase? Or will we see an increase in only children? Or might we just continue to see women starting to have children later? In other words, how might this increase in education levels impact, if at all, the current fertility rates now, which are just under two per woman?
I am watching for new census data on fertility and level of education for information on this. What hypotheses might you have?