This study is a considerably more comprehensive analysis of highly educated women's fertility than several other recent studies of the subject that came to contradictory results, according to the authors.
The researchers used two major data sets: the June Current Population Survey for 1980 to 2008, which is a joint effort between the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau; and the Vital Statistics Birth Data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Findings on women's fertility were very different depending on education level, Weinberg said.
"For the less educated women, it is more a story about the timing of their fertility. They are having their children earlier now than they used to, but they are not having any more children overall," he said.
"For the highly educated women born after the late 50s, they are more likely to have children than did previous cohorts, and they are having them near the end of their childbearing years."
For women with graduate education, cumulative fertility is flat among 25-29 year olds in recent years. It increases somewhat among 30-34 year olds and considerably more among older women.
The results for women with bachelor's degrees (and no advanced degrees) are not as dramatic. There are no discernible trends for women aged 25 to 34, but there are increases at older ages. For women who have some college, but did not graduate, cumulative fertility increases at all ages, with the increase starting earlier at younger ages.
The study notes that one possible reason that women in their late 30s and 40s are now deciding to have children could be that fertility treatments have become more accessible and affordable in recent years.
With the data available, there is no completely accurate way to calculate how many older women are using fertility t
|Contact: Bruce Weinberg|
Ohio State University