The college graduate, well-paid never-married single mother is now a thing.

There has arisen a growing class of never-married mothers who have bachelor’s degrees, make $50,000 per year or more, and who do represent a distinct class among college moms with somewhat different goals and desires than the broader married college moms.

For example, this group of mothers is perfectly fine with lots of socialist-type policies and government expansion, as their well-paid professional-managerial class jobs are overwhelmingly in nonprofit and government work.  That “equity coordinator” for the local Chamber of Commerce is likely to be such a mother.  Or a communications director with a school district.  Or a regional manager for a network of homeless shelters.  Or maybe the director of a small local one that caters specifically to teenage mothers.

The wages for all this sort of thing are almost never “six-figure”, but generally in the 25-35 dollars per hour range.  This is well-paying for two people.  These mothers overwhelmingly have one child out of wedlock and don’t have additional children via later marriage.  The broadly modal tendency is to have the child in their late 30s.

Women in this group absolutely have a massive investment in continuing the degree ratchet where more and more degrees are listed in job requirements for the same pay.  Such women also can’t afford private school and generally have a distaste for homeschooling even in areas where academic secular homeschooling is normalized (which is nearly anywhere slightly urban in much of the country).  So they have a strong tendency to support the general “how much more money for public schools? dunno, MORE MORE MORE” position that is not exactly uncommon on the Democrat-voting side of the political aisle.

Counterintuitively, many of these never-married college moms support massive amounts of gun control because they *don’t* live in dangerous gentrifying urban areas, but tend to live the exurb or semi-rural life.  It’s cheaper and since they tend towards government jobs anyway and are generally only supporting two people, they don’t even have to worry about commuting tradeoffs.  So since they tend to live in low crime small cities and towns, it’s all abstract for them.  It’s a very different context than urban, single, childless professional class women who support such things.

And of course, because these women have one child, they tend to support child-friendly things, but child-friendly frequently isn’t mother-friendly unless it’s a mother of one.  They don’t think of, for example, healthcare access in terms of logistics scheduling and wrangling multiple children (among married parents, if you went from bottom quartile to top quartile, the average number of kids would be something like 1/2/2/3) because relatively few of these college moms have 2 kids (and yes, it is usually twins if they do).  They tend to only see that debate in terms of costs and networks.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting traits to this new self-supporting class of mothers who never marry and have college degrees.  But a major thing is that these women have a lot more free time to be on social media presenting various ideological concepts as normative for college moms in general when that, in fact, is not the case.

 

Conservatives won’t attack the universities effectively because universities are their baby factories.

This was written before Our Year of Covid, and the only bit that is currently different is a shift to gloating about food trucks and takeout instead of eating at the Whole Foods or local-equivalent deli tables.

This is something that is not immediately obvious to many conservative commentators, including far right ones, because the acceptable fringe subcultures who are anti-college but still married with kids are very loud and are in fact massively overrepresented in conservative media.  There’s also demographic lag, since the true culmination of college as guaranteed path to motherhood in the married class didn’t really hit until the internet era and there’s a lot of women who had babies in the 80s and 90s whose experiences 20+ years ago as non-college married mothers are also overrepresented.

Conservatives are in a real bind by relying on college as the baby factory, though.  The number of first births is declining year after year and is not in fact being offset by increases in third and higher births by women who are already mothers.  The conversion of middle class parenting and childrearing into a college-microcosm, where all interactions are mediated by a credentialed array of third parties (you don’t teach your kid domestic skills informally, they go to cooking and sweeping and mopping classes) and there is, simply, no organic social interaction (you have to join groups that meet at specific times for specific kinds of “play-based movement”) has been fertility inhibiting and it’s getting more and more so each year.

Even meal preparation has taken on college norms, consisting of carefully measured meal kits to be prepared according to precise and “scientific” instructions, or literal cafeteria-style eating in a upscale grocery store’s deli section.  Same chairs and tables and general set up as a college campus, only the food’s a little more expensive.

Obviously a lot of college moms love this brave new world where they never have to give up the mentality and practices of their college years once they graduate.  But it’s driving women who don’t want to live such a tightly structured life just to be moms away from motherhood entirely.

Liberals are in a bind, too, but progressive views don’t include a substantial pro-family ideological component, so the fertility shredding effects of motherhood turning more and more into the world’s longest advanced college degree don’t affect their group norms the same way.  Conservatives, though, do have that pro-family ideological aspect and if they don’t figure out how to baby factory some other way, then in the long run there will be a small, extremely rigid hard core having the same 2-4 kids, and this raises wider social questions about how we can ever hope to have normal sex roles when those people are completely pushed out of the reproductive race.

College is the new bride price

The money doesn’t go to the parents, though.  But it’s the main path to the married class.  A fundamental error is the view that college is a net financial loss for middle class women.  But this dismisses the reality that the college “bride price” is how those women display their marriageability and secure marriage to a man who can lead them into firm footing in the married class.  The fringe notion that college is for harlotry is nearly the opposite of the reality that’s led to a supermajority of children being born to college-educated mothers and a majority being born to college-completing mothers (BA and beyond).

Women were taking 40% of the BAs in 1970.  Those women’s daughters have come to completely dominate married motherhood, so of course college for girls Just Makes Sense.  When your daughter is going to marry a guy who’s already graduated a couple years earlier and who’s already making 70k while she’s walking into 40k starting, suddenly the 15k or 25k in student loans doesn’t seem like such a big deal.