A recent study by the Institute for Economic Research Etla has revealed a surprising result: highly educated women are more likely to find a spouse and have children by the age of 37. However, this is not the case for men, whose level of education does not promote family formation.
This study challenges previous assumptions that education makes it difficult for women to start a family but helps men find a relationship. Today, both highly educated women and men have a spouse and children more frequently than those with secondary education or only primary school education.
The study looked at the effect of education level by comparing the register data of individuals born between 1979-1985 who pursued secondary education or university of applied sciences. Those who barely exceeded or barely fell below the admission limits were included in the study. The assumption was that the groups of those who got in and those who stayed out near the entry border have quite similar characteristics. For men, the effect of education on income was significant, but it didn’t affect their likelihood of having children.
Access to secondary education increased the number of children for women by 5%, and access to a university of applied sciences by a further 5%, compared to those who were left out. The group thinks that education increases the number of women’s children because the jobs of educated people are more flexible according to the needs of the family, making them desirable partners for reproduction. However, in men, the effect was close to zero for one reason or another.
Research manager Hanna Virtanen speculated that this phenomenon could be explained by postponement among men who have reached university age. She also suggested that education might be considered as a sign of being able to be a parent, especially among women. While these results cannot be generalized to all educated and uneducated people, they provide valuable insights into how education can impact family formation.