May 09, 2015 04:03 PM EDT
In a new study by the Pew Research Center and the Census Bureau, researchers have discovered that fewer women in the United States are childless in their 40s. The most significant drop was noticed for women who had master's degrees or doctorates. In 1994, 30 percent of the women with higher education were childless, but last year that number had dropped to 22 percent.
For the study, researchers analyzed the educational background of women in connection with motherhood. The study also took into account other factors such as age and race. The overall conclusion the researchers found was that motherhood is now more likely in the categories where in the past it had been stagnating.
Researchers have attributed that the cause of this change is by demographic and societal changes and seems to coincide with the increased number of women who occupy managerial and leadership positions.
According to the findings, only one in five women between the ages of 40 and 44 with master's degrees or higher has no children. This change is more dramatic in the case of women with an M.D. or Ph.D. In 1994, 35 percent of women in this category had no children, but today that number as dropped to 20 percent.
Family size of women with higher education has also increased with six in ten women have at least two children. This has led researchers to believe that the intersection of family roles have now made women more courageous when it comes to children. If household chores and responsibilities are equally divided women are more likely to feel comfortable and have a sense of security regarding the balance between work and personal life.
The new report also suggested that ethnicity and race also play an important role in the increase or decline of childlessness, but societal and demographic factors should not be analyzed separately, but the impact of societal factors on this new trend was not represented in this latest report.
The study was based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau's June Supplement of the Current Population Survey. Public use data was not available prior to 1986 so data was taken from census tabulations.
For the purpose of this report, any woman who has given birth was defined as a mother while women who had not given birth to children were defined as childless. The end of childbearing years was set in the report as beginning sometime between the ages of 40 and 44.
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