- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2015

The number of real-life “Dr. Moms” has been growing in recent years, as highly educated women make time to have children, a new study says.

In the 1990s, about a third of women in their early 40s who had a master’s or higher degree were childless, said the Pew Research Center report released Thursday. But by 2014, this was the case for only 22 percent of highly educated women.

Instead, “post-graduate education and motherhood are increasingly going hand-in-hand,” wrote Gretchen Livingston, lead researcher and author of the report.

Even women who are medical doctors or have a doctorate have decided to tackle the rigors of diaper-changing and bottle-washing: Only 20 percent of such highly educated women were childless by the time they reached age 40-44 in 2014, compared with 35 percent of similarly situated women in 1994.

Another trend is that highly educated women are “opting for bigger families than in the past,” said the report, which was based on an analysis of Census Bureau population data from 1976 to 2014.

Today, six-in-10 women with master’s degrees or higher have two or more children. This is an increase from 51 percent seen in 1994, Ms. Livingston wrote.

Fueled in part by these increases in childbearing among highly educated women, childlessness among all women ages 40-44 “is at the lowest point in a decade,” the report said.

In both 1994 and 2014, about 15 percent of women reach the end of their fertile years without giving birth.

This is significantly lower than the 20 percent childlessness seen around 2006, the report said. But it is still higher than in the 1970s and early 1980s, when only about 10 percent of women reached their early 40s without giving birth.

The Pew study found that among racial groups, Hispanic and black women were likely to have large families: Fully 20 percent of Hispanic women and 18 percent of black women have four or more children. In comparison, just 11 percent of white women and 10 percent of Asian women have such large families, the report said.

The report clarified that due to limitations in the data, it only counted women who had given birth as mothers. However, it noted, 7 percent of children who live with a parent are with either an adoptive parent or a step-parent.


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