If you’re like us, you nerd out over the latest social science data on the American family – (admit it!) – especially when it comes to juicy new details about how our lives as mothers are changing. The Pew Research Center’s latest report was full of fascinating and surprising insights about the state of modern motherhood, including some new trends in fertility rates, particularly among the highly educated. Here’s what you need to know from their recent reports on how modern family life is changing:
1. Masters degrees = more mamas having more babies
Pew found that there’s been a statistically significant uptick in the number of highly educated women having larger families (defined at 3+ children). Perhaps due to generational changes, greater assumed equality between the sexes (dad has to pitch in when mom works too, so more kids seem possible) or even because of a degree of ambition in both their personal and professional lives, some highly educated women are having larger families than similarly-educated women had before.
2. There’s been a related decline in the number of childless highly educated women–particularly among the brainiest among us.
“Today, about one-in-five women ages 40 to 44 with a master’s degree or higher (22%) have no children – down from 30% in 1994, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data. The decline is particularly dramatic among women with an M.D. or Ph.D. – fully 35% were childless in 1994, while today the share stands at 20%.”
3. Moms have 2.4 children on average
For nearly two decades, Pew reports, the size of the American family has remained fairly stable. While forty years ago, a four-child-family was common, the two-kid household has been the American norm for a long time.
4. More than seven-in-10 mothers work outside the home
At Motherly, like to say that the term “working mother” is redundant. All moms work. But when we’re talking about mothers who are working outside the home, Pew finds that more mamas than ever are making money through professional tasks: “The share of mothers in the labor force (with children younger than 18) rose to 71% in 2012, from just 47% in 1975.”
5. Dads are pitching more around the house, but not nearly enough
Reports Pew: “’Traditional’ roles for mothers and fathers are eroding. Comparing data from 1965 and 2011 shows that mothers these days are spending more hours per week at their jobs, and fathers are spending more time doing housework. Both mothers and fathers are spending more time on child care, though mothers still do more of this than fathers do.” Fathers FIX THIS PLEASE 🙂
6. In general, “the more education a mother has, the fewer children she will have on average in her lifetime.”
So while some highly educated women are beginning to have larger families (see #1), on the whole, the number of children a woman has goes down as her level of education goes up.