It’s a population trend that may seem quite familiar to many working women. Not only are American women with a college degree getting married later, but they are becoming mothers at a later age and having fewer children overall. The Census Bureau calls this the “Delayer Boom”
The finding comes from a comparison of the 2000 and 2010 Fertility Supplements to the Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). Fertility of American Women: 2010 provides a national-level perspective over the past 10 years of the lifetime fertility experience of women.
“Our findings show that a 'delayer boom' is under way, where highly educated women initially delay childbearing but are more likely to have children into their 30s,” said Census Bureau demographer Kristy Krivickas. “But these women do not fully catch up to the childbearing levels of women with fewer years of schooling.”
In 2000, women 25 to 34 with at least a bachelor's degree had fewer total children and were less likely to have ever given birth compared to women who had less than a high school education. Women with less than a high school education had three times as many births as women with at least a bachelor's degree; 83 percent of women 25 to 34 with less than a high school education had given birth at twice the percentage recorded by women with at least a bachelor's degree (42 percent).
By 2010, the education level of these women—now 10 years older—made less of a difference in their total number of children than it did in 2000. Women 35 to 44 (corresponding with the 25 to 34 age group in 2000) with at least a bachelor's degree had 1.7 births, while women who had less than a high school education had 2.5 births. 88 percent of women 35 to 44 with less than a high school education had a birth compared to 76 percent of women with at least a bachelor's degree.
The analysis also found the following:
- Foreign-born women were more likely to have ever had a baby than were native-born women by the age of 40 to 44, at 87 percent compared to 80 percent.
- More than half (55 percent) of women who had a child in the last year were working. Of those women, about one third (34 percent) were working full time, 14 percent were working part time, and 7 percent were unemployed.
- Almost a quarter (23 percent) of women with a birth in the last year reported living in households with family incomes of at least $75,000. At the other end of the income scale, about one in five (21 percent) were living in families with incomes under $20,000.
- By age 40 to 44, White non-Hispanic women (20.6 percent) were more likely to be childless than Hispanic women (12.4 percent), Black women (17.2 percent) and Asian women (15.9 percent).