Material advantages increasing for better-educated mothers and their children
Press release issued: 1 August 2007
New research from the University of Bristol shows that the experiences of work and family life for women in the UK have become increasing polarised between those with further education and those without, and that, over time, the material advantages of better-educated mothers, for themselves and for their children, has been increasing.
New research from the University of Bristol shows that the experiences of work and family life for women in the UK have become increasing polarised between those with further education and those without. Over time, the material advantages of better-educated mothers, for themselves and for their children, have been increasing.
The research by Anita Ratcliffe and Sarah Smith from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) looks at the dramatic changes in family life in the UK across the last thirty years – smaller family sizes, increased childlessness and a rise in the average age at which women have their first child – and at how much women’s participation in higher education has influenced these trends.
The researchers looked at more than 40 cohorts of women born between 1935 and 1975, from which the following picture emerges:
• As in many developed countries, the number of children born in the UK each year has fallen in recent decades. The average family size fell by 0.5 of a child for women born between 1935 and 1965.
• Those with further education have consistently had fewer children and begun motherhood later in life than women without, but the gap has been growing bigger over time.
• Regardless of their education, most women born in 1945 had given birth to their first child by the age of 30. While this continued to be true for women born in 1965 without further education, those with further education entered motherhood far later in life.
Further informationNote for editors
- The article in the summer 2007 issue of Research in Public Policy summarises ‘Fertility and Women’s Education in the UK: A Cohort Analysis’ by Anita Ratcliffe and Sarah Smith, CMPO Working Paper No. 06/165.
- A podcast interview with Sarah Smith is available at http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/audio/smith07.mp3.