Demographers in the UK have discovered through their data that education isn’t necessarily the reason that so many women are delaying pregnancy. The data suggests that family history, not level of education, is the biggest driving force in many women’s decisions to delay pregnancy.
The average age of first-time mothers has been steadily increasing in both Europe and the U.S. since WWII ended. In England and Wales, the average age of first-time mothers is now 30.3 years old.
Research has shown that the number of years women spend in educational settings has also increased over time. Several studies have made the suggestion that there is a causal link between level of education and postponing of pregnancy, but the latest research published in the journal Demography now suggests differently. The data collected has revealed that education is not as prominent of a factor in the decision to postpone pregnancy as researchers previously thought.
It’s been proven that bilingual employees earn approximately 20% more than their monolingual counterparts, but bilingual education wasn’t a leading factor in women’s decisions to postpone pregnancy.
Over time, the average age of women after completing their education has steadily risen. While researchers thought the age of first-time mothers would follow the same curve, it fell into a U shape instead. This is largely due to the number of young mothers immediately after WWII. The curve started to follow the educational trend in the years after and has followed more closely since the 1960s.
“We find that both education and a woman’s fertility choices seem to be mostly influenced by her family background, instead of education influencing fertility behaviour directly,” said lead study author Dr Felix Tropf, from the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford.
When comparing data, Tropf and his researchers found that women born in the 1960s postponed pregnancy by approximately 2.7 years when compared with women born immediately after WWII. Further research on the matter will take influence of peers into account.