College education and birth numbers, 2007-2015

The CDC has a birth database, wonder.cdc.gov, and it is pretty complete.  It’s where the numbers come from.

What I was talking about here  is a little more obvious once the percentages are there.  This is just for black and white non-Hispanic women, the groups you can go back to 1960 or earlier on.

Black women: 53% of births to women with high school completed or less, 47% of births to women with some college education, including completing bachelor’s and advanced degrees.  Nearly 4 million births for that timeframe.

White women: 32% of births to women with high school completed or less, 68% to women with college education.    Nearly 15 million births for them.

These numbers represent all births for this timeframe, first kid, second, fifth, whatever.

Now we look at the impact of education level on marital status for black women:

 

Race Education Level Percent Married at Birth Percent Unmarried at Birth
Black 8th grade or less 38.49% 61.51%
9-12 grade 9.63% 90.37%
Finished High School 18.30% 81.70%
Some college 27.68% 72.32%
AA degree 44.23% 55.77%
BA/BS 62.28% 37.72%
MA 76.47% 23.53%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 86.00% 14.00%

Though not ideal, the impact of more education is evident, women with even a little college education represent a substantially lower number of out of wedlock births.

Here’s the impact for white women:

Race Education Level Percent Married at Birth Percent Unmarried at Birth
White 8th grade or less 67.41% 32.59%
9-12 grade 30.05% 69.95%
Finished High School 50.39% 49.61%
Some college 63.35% 36.65%
AA degree 79.10% 20.90%
BA/BS 92.69% 7.31%
MA 95.74% 4.26%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 96.06% 3.94%

Amish births distort their 8th grade numbers in favor of marriage, but given the radically different structure of Amish society,  one could argue that this is a more education= more marriage situation too.  It is worth noting that the out of wedlock numbers for white women with BAs or more have remained in the single digits for decades now, despite the group itself being much larger a chunk of the mothers.

Having looked at basic out of wedlock differences by education we come to the question the natalist of any sort is most interested in: what percentage of BIRTHS do the higher-educated moms represent?

Let’s look at the numbers for black women first:

Race Education Level Percent of total married births Percent of total unmarried births
Black 8th grade or less 2.35% 1.48%
9-12 grade 6.04% 22.28%
Finished High School 21.68% 37.99%
Some college 26.26% 26.94%
AA degree 10.04% 4.97%
BA/BS 20.67% 4.92%
MA 10.38% 1.25%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 2.57% 0.16%

And the kicker, percentage of total births:

Race Education Level Percent of all births
Black 8th grade or less 1.72%
9-12 grade 17.70%
Finished High School 33.39%
Some college 26.75%
AA degree 6.40%
BA/BS 9.36%
MA 3.83%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 0.84%

As you can see, the ground gets pretty thin for black women with more education, but they still represent about 20% of total births at the AA+ level, and at that level a comfortable majority of births are in wedlock.  This means most of the 30% or so of black births born in wedlock these days are heavily drawn from that 20% group, despite their smaller separate percentages.  It also means that even including the “some college” group’s high OOW rate, black women have a majority of births in wedlock being born to college educated mothers.

But here’s something interesting with the data for white women:

Race Education Level Percent of total married births Percent of total unmarried births
White 8th grade or less 1.33% 1.54%
9-12 grade 3.41% 18.99%
Finished High School 16.11% 37.99%
Some college 19.53% 27.07%
AA degree 10.42% 6.60%
BA/BS 31.53% 5.96%
MA 13.94% 1.49%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 3.74% 0.37%

If you look at unmarried birth percentages, you see that they are nearly identical in distribution to the black percentages.  They are in fact identical at the “Finished High School” level, with that being the largest chunk of unwed mothers for black women and white women.  What we also see is that for white women, there are MORE college educated mothers having OOW births as a percentage, while they have a smaller group of births in the “Grade 9-12 only” category.

That was surprising.

Here’s the total birth percentages for white women by education level:

Race Education Level Percent of all births
White 8th grade or less 1.39%
9-12 grade 8.00%
Finished High School 22.55%
Some college 21.75%
AA degree 9.30%
BA/BS 24.00%
MA 10.28%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 2.75%

 

Just like with black women, you get a shrinking of percent from some college to AA and then a strong bump for the BA, but it’s much more significant here.  So even if you don’t care about test scores and all that jazz, the basic cognitive sort is blindingly obvious in both black and white women.  Black women who marry before kids are heavily college attending, and white women in general, but ESPECIALLY those who marry are heavily college attending.

Anyway this post is just putting the numbers up.  These births, as noted in the title, are recent and span nearly a decade and are all births, not just first births.  So these children are almost entirely under 10 years old and this represents some completed families and siblings.  This has interesting implications for the future.

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2 thoughts on “College education and birth numbers, 2007-2015

  1. I don’t think you can get a full picture of birth vs. education and marriage without considering age. A teen mother who is still in high school hasn’t yet had time to get more education, and may not legally be able to get married, while a holder of a graduate degree is well into her 20’s, at least.

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    • Covering multiple years captures some of that. The teen mother still in high school doesn’t tend to have additional children unless they’re in wedlock. Unwed motherhood is much more likely to be one and done, particularly since the 80s.

      The larger picture of what you’re talking about is cohort analysis, and that would be a book length effort on its own. But you get a little bit of it just pulling birth data over several years. I could put the ages of the mothers in, and I might do more on that one of these days.

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