Higher educated women become mothers later in life than women educated at secondary or lower level. This has been the case for generations. Higher educated women have shown a tendency to postpone motherhood further, but this did not result in fewer higher educated women having children.
One quarter of higher educated women do not have children
The share of childless higher educated women has not risen. Over one quarter of women belonging to the generations of 1945-1949 and 1960-1964 were childless. The rate of childlessness among lower educated women is indeed lower, but rose from 9 to 15 percent.
Higher educated women postpone motherhood
The age gap between higher and lower educated first-time mothers has widened. The average age of first-time higher educated women born between 1960 and 1964 was 31 years. They were three and a half years older than their counterparts born in the period 1945-1949. The average age of lower educated first-time mothers increased more modestly from nearly 24 in the older generation to 25.5 in the younger generation.
Average age first-time mothers
More higher educated women
Higher educated women become first-time mothers later in life and more frequently remain childless than their lower educated counterparts, because higher educated women more often are employed and opt for a career. It also appears to be more problematic for them to find a suitable partner. Their number has also risen; 22 percent of women of the younger generation were higher educated, as against 15 percent of the 1945-1949 generation.
Elma van Agtmaal-Wobma and Mila van Huis