The share of highly educated women who are childless into their mid-40s has fallen significantly over the last two decades, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Census Bureau.
The decline is steepest among women in their 40s who have an M.D. or Ph.D. Last year, 20 percent reported having no children, compared with 35 percent in 1994. Among those who have a master’s degree or higher, 22 percent are childless, down from 30 percent in 1994.
Demographers said that as the ranks of female professionals have grown, so, too, has the sense that career and motherhood need not be mutually exclusive. While finding the right balance of work and family may not be easy, they say, it has become an everyday challenge, rather than an unusual strain.
And many women who delayed childbearing as they were building their careers often find themselves wanting a family as they near the end of their reproductive years.
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