College-Educated Black Women Have Fewer Children Than Their White Peers

College-educated Black women in the United States give birth to fewer children than their White and Hispanic counterparts, according to a new study led by Emma Zang, an assistant professor of sociology at Yale University.

The researchers used data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 2006 to 2017 involving a nationally representative sample of 11,117 women. They calculated the average number of children women from each racial/ethnic group and educational level would have over the course of their reproductive years. Additionally, they analyzed the proportion of women from each group who give birth to one, two, or three children.

Overall, they found that college-educated women across racial and ethnic groups have fewer children than those who did not graduate college. The difference in fertility between college-educated Black and White women is driven mainly by the smaller proportion of Black mothers giving birth to a second child, the study found. A high proportion of both groups have one child, but the proportion of college-educated Black mothers who had a second child was more than 10 percentage points lower than that of White mothers, the study showed. About 80 percent of White women with college degrees had a second child, while less than 70 percent of similarly educated Black women had a second child.

The study’s findings indicate that, compared to White children, a greater proportion of Black and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic children are born with less-educated mothers and a smaller proportion are born with college-educated mothers, Dr. Zang said.

“Highly educated mothers tend to have more resources to support their children’s development and chances for success in life,” she said. “That is to say that Black and Hispanic children, when compared to White children, are disproportionally born into families with fewer resources, which could exacerbate income and health inequality into the next generation.”

The full study, “The Interplay of Race/Ethnicity and Education in Fertility Patterns,” was published on the website of the journal Population Studies. It may be accessed here.

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1 COMMENT

  1. This is not at all surprising. We can also factor in the high debt ratio between black and white women and the smaller dating pool options for educated black women. While women are still traditionally encouraged to go school to become a Mrs., The same can’t be said for black women, who are in it for a career.

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