College-Educated Women Are Far More Likely Than Other Women to Be Married When They Have Children

babyjpgA new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore finds that women who don’t go to college are more likely than not to have children outside of wedlock. The study included a sample of 9,000 women who were between the ages of 26 and 31 in 2011.

The results showed that for mothers who didn’t graduate from college, 74 percent had at least one child when they were not married. Nearly half of the mothers had all their children outside of marriage. For mothers who had dropped out of high school, 87 percent had at least one child outside of marriage.

In contrast, for mothers who had graduated from college, only 32 percent had a child outside of wedlock. Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of public policy in the department of sociology at Johns Hopkins University and the lead author of the study, stated that “if marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among the college graduates because most of them do not begin to have children until after they are married. The difference between them and the non-college educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood.”

Professor Cherlin’s most recent book is The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family Today (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009). His latest research – described in this post – is the paper, “Changing Fertility Regimes and the Transition to Adulthood: Evidence From a Recent Cohort.” It was presented at the meeting of the Population Association of America. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

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