Today, fewer women are making that difficult decision of choosing between kids vs. a higher education and a career. Instead, trends show that they’re saying yes to both!
With numbers soaring faster than any other demographic of moms, highly educated mothers are rapidly choosing to raise families. According to the Pew Research Center, 78% of women between the ages of 40 and 44 with a master’s degree have kids, compared to 70% in 1994.
Even more strikingly, a full 80% of women between 40 and 44 with a Ph.D. or higher have kids, up from a low of 65% back in 1994. That’s a staggering rise—but what exactly does it mean and what does it say about motherhood today?
Why Women With Higher Degrees Are Choosing Motherhood
Many societal and economic factors come into play when pinning down why more educated women are deciding to have babies. However, the clearest and most prominent include:
Financial Security First
Let’s be real. Kids are crazy expensive—and few understand current finances like millennials. Currently making up 82% of new moms in the U.S., millennials entered adulthood in the midst of the Great Recession. Thanks to a cratered job market, massive students loans, and skyrocketing housing prices, they encountered economic insecurity from the get-go.
That’s why many millennial women are first securing higher degrees, employment, and a healthy career path before starting families. Essentially, they want long-term fiscal stability—and then they’ll start thinking about children. Higher education also tends to go hand-in-hand with higher salaries so they can confidently support themselves, and their children.
More Moms in the Workplace
Until very recent history, women believed achieving a solid career meant sacrificing motherhood in some way or another. That could mean spending less quality time with their kids or forgoing it altogether. However, as more mothers enter the workforce, more jobs are turning mom-friendly.
Examples of these mom-friendly employment benefits include childcare assistance, extended maternity & paternity leave, flex-time, lactation rooms, baby-friendly offices, and more. Some companies like Google and Facebook are even offering free egg-freezing services which allow women to plan their career and family on their own schedule.
More fathers are also choosing to stay home with their kids as moms increasingly become primary breadwinners. In 2016, dads made up 17% of all stay-at-home parents—a sizable uptick from just 10% in 1989. By normalizing the SAHD and flipping traditional gender roles, couples can make the best decisions for themselves, their kids, and their careers—not society-at-large.
It’s Easier to Be An Older Mom
In 2018, the average age of first-time moms is 26.3, a number that’s consistently risen since 1970 when the average age was 21. Also, more women are giving birth in their 30s than in their 20s, and more first-time moms are choosing to enter motherhood in their 40s.
Today, there’s not only less of a stigma attached to older moms—it’s also easier to get there. With fertility treatments, egg & embryo freezing, genetic testing, and more, fewer risks are attached to delayed motherhood. Now, women can achieve higher levels of education and blaze a long career path while still looking forward to becoming a parent.
What About Women With Less Education?
Not everything has changed when it comes to demographics regarding motherhood. Those with less than a bachelor’s degree continue to have more babies—and have them younger—than women with a completed college education or higher.
On average, women without a college degree become moms at age 23 vs. women with college degrees at age 30. Also, the percentage of women aged 40 to 44 with only a high school diploma that became moms has held steady at 88% since 1994. When comparing that to the 15 point jump women with a doctorate have seen, it’s clear that trends tied to motherhood are linked to advanced education and socioeconomic levels.
These numbers also indicate that—if given a choice—over 80% of women DO want to raise a family. However, many previously felt like they had to pick kids or career. But now as society changes, gender roles evolve, and more women gain increased financial freedom, they also achieve control over their own destinies.
What Does This Mean for My Family?
Though gender roles are changing in many ways, they’re staying the same in one significant category—life insurance. Even though women are providing more income to a child-filled household, they still lag considerably when it comes to acquiring comprehensive life insurance for their family.
According to LIMRA, a top life insurance market research organization, only 56% of women have life insurance vs. 62% of men. An even more staggering statistic shows that with married couples, 71% of husbands carry insurance compared to 63% of wives.
Tragedy doesn’t discriminate by gender. Especially today, a mother unexpectedly passing away can cause an equally catastrophic effect on their family as a father’s death. This is applicable for stay-at-home or part-time moms too. Even if you bring in a smaller income—or none at all—just think about the jobs you do daily as Mom. Daycare. Transportation. Cleaning. Cooking. It all quickly adds up.
Don’t fall into increasingly outdated financial gender roles by assuming the man pulls most the economic weight with moms requiring less coverage. If you’re from a family with a working spouse—no matter the gender—you need comprehensive life insurance. And as your brood grows or income increases, don’t forget to reevaluate your policies. A perfect plan for a family of two is likely too small for a family of four.
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