Late, but Not Too Late? Postponement of First Birth among Highly Educated U.S. Women

Natalie Nitsche, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Hannah Br├╝ckner , NYU Abu Dhabi

We examine the link between postponement of parenthood and fertility outcomes among highly educated women in the U.S. born 1920-1986, using data from the CPS June Supplement 1979-2016. We argue that the postponement-low fertility nexus noted in demographic and biomedical research is especially relevant for women who obtain education beyond college because of the potential overlap of education completion, early career stages and family formation. The results show that they differ from college graduates in timing of first birth, childlessness, and completed fertility. While postponement is sustained among U.S. highly educated women beginning with cohorts born in the late forties, its associations with childlessness and completed parity have changed considerably over cohorts. We delineate five distinct postponement phases over the eighty-year observation window, consistent with variation in the prevalence of strategies for combining tertiary education and employment with family formation over time.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 127. Fertility Timing