Fertility patterns of college graduates by field of study, US women born 1960–79

Katherine Michelmore, Kelly Musick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Building on recent European studies, we used the Survey of Income and Program Participation to provide the first analysis of fertility differences between groups of US college graduates by their undergraduate field of study. We used multilevel event-history models to investigate possible institutional and selection mechanisms linking field of study to delayed fertility and childlessness. The results are consistent with those found for Europe in showing an overall difference of 10 percentage points between levels of childlessness across fields, with the lowest levels occurring for women in health and education, intermediate levels for women in science and technology, and the highest levels for women in arts and social sciences. The mediating roles of the following field characteristics were assessed: motherhood employment penalties; percentage of men; family attitudes; and marriage patterns. Childlessness was higher among women in fields with a moderate representation of men, less traditional family attitudes, and late age at first marriage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-374
Number of pages16
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 13 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • childlessness
  • delayed childbearing
  • education
  • fertility
  • field of study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • History


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