Family Formation among Highly Educated Women in the U.S.: Examining Trends in Age at First Birth and Levels of Childlessness for Birth Cohorts 1921-1975

Hannah Brueckner, Yale University
Natalie Nitsche, Yale University
Silke Aisenbrey, Yeshiva University

Research on college-educated women suggests that their strategies in navigating work and family and resulting life course outcomes have changed during the course of the 20th century. However, data and studies on the life course of women with postgraduate degrees are sparse. We use the CPS June supplement on Marriage and Fertility to understand how the timing of first birth, levels of childlessness and parity outcomes of highly educated women have changed for female birth cohorts 1921-1975. We also examine trends in median age of graduate students and the proportion of graduate students living with children. We find that among women with postgraduate education, the median age at first birth increased over cohorts and leveled out at age 34 for birth cohort 1956-60. Compared to other educational groups, childlessness is highest among highly educated women and peaks for the same birth cohort at ~ 35%, but decreases again in cohorts born after 1960.

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Presented in Session 148: Family Change and Continuity