Study Finds Differences In Childbearing Between Racial/ethnic Groups Across Educational Levels

Study Finds Differences In Childbearing Between Racial/ethnic Groups Across Educational Levels

College-educated black women in the United States are having fewer children than their white and Hispanic counterparts, according to a new study by Yale University sociologist Emma Zhang.

A study published in the Journal of Population Studies examined the effects of race, ethnicity, and education on American women born between 1960 and 1980. Women with a school education had more children than white women with the same education. Among those with college degrees, Hispanic women had the highest fertility rates compared to highly educated white women.

"Traditionally, it was believed that racial or ethnic differences in fertility disappeared once minority women reached the same educational and socioeconomic level as white women, but we found that there were disparities at all levels of education." in sociology from Yale University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. "In general, highly educated women have fewer children than uneducated women, but this does not explain the difference between highly educated women.

"Our findings highlight the importance of examining the pregnancy gap between socioeconomically affluent women and women with few financial resources."

Unlike previous studies on race and fertility in the US that focused only on black and white women, this new study includes Hispanics, who make up at least 19% of the US population.

For the study, Zhang and co-authors Chloe Sarigo, PhD, Department of Sociology, and Anirudh Krishnan of the Abdul Laff Jameel Poverty Action Lab analyzed four waves of National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) data between 2006 and 2017, with a sample that represented up to 11,117 women at the national level. Calculate the average number of children of childbearing age for women in each racial/ethnic group and educational level. They also analyzed the percentage of women with one, two or three children in each group.

In general, women with a college education have fewer children of different races and ethnicities than women without a college education. The study found that the fertility gap between college-educated black and white women was primarily due to the lower percentage of second births among black mothers. The study found that higher percentages of both groups had children, but that the percentage of college-educated black mothers having a second child was 10 percent lower than that of white mothers. About 80% of college-educated white women have a second child, while less than 70% of college-educated black women have a second child.

One possible explanation for the low fertility rates of college-educated black women is that they have put off having their first child so long that they don't have time to have many children at birth. However, the study found little evidence of racial/ethnic differences between different levels of education in women's decisions to have children.

Previous research has identified reasons why black and Hispanic women without college degrees may be more fertile than their white counterparts, Zhang said. For example, religious beliefs and lack of health insurance affect how uneducated black and Hispanic women use contraception. She explains that due to structural racism, Black and Hispanic women without college degrees are more likely to face relationship and economic instability than their white counterparts.

The new study raises several questions about racial differences among college-educated women that deserve further study, Zhang said.

Are fertility differences due to highly educated black and Hispanic women experiencing more pregnancy-related complications, such as miscarriage, infant and maternal mortality, among their racial groups? Is this the result of college-educated Black and Hispanic women fearing that less educated Black and Hispanic women will have to move into spaces, including predominantly white workplaces, to confirm stereotypes that they are outnumbered? Are college-educated black and Hispanic women who want a second child unable to have one due to health problems caused by the long-term stress of racism?

Emma Zhang, sociologist at Yale University

The results showed that, compared to white children, a higher proportion of black children and slightly more Hispanic children were born to mothers with less education, and a smaller percentage were born to mothers with higher education, Zhang said.

"Highly educated mothers will have more resources to support their children's growth and chances of success in life," he said. "This means that black and Hispanic children are disproportionately more likely than white children to be born into low-income families, exacerbating income and health inequality in the next generation."

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