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and children decline among highly educated black women
(September 10, 2009) Fewer black women with postgraduate degrees are
getting married and having children, according to a study by the Yale
Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course, which was
recently presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American
Sociological Association in San Francisco.
"In the past nearly four decades, black women have made great gains in
higher education rates, yet these gains appear to have come increasingly
at the cost of marriage and family," said Hannah Brueckner, professor of
sociology at Yale University; co-director of the research center; and
the study's co-author. "Both white and black highly educated women have
increasingly delayed childbirth and remained childless, but the increase
is stronger for black women."
The study, which is the first to review longitudinal trends in marriage
and family formation among highly educated black women, found that black
women born after 1950 were twice as likely as white women never to have
married by age 45 and twice as likely to be divorced, widowed or
The gap in the proportion of black and white highly educated women
living with a spouse has grown over the decades, increasing from 9
percent in the 1970's to 21 percent in 2000–07.
"Highly educated black women have increasingly fewer options when it
comes to potential mates," Brueckner said. "They are less likely than
black men to marry outside their race, and, compared to whites and black
men, they are least likely to marry a college-educated spouse."
Although black women were more likely than white women to have children
early in their academic careers, 45 percent of those born between 1955
and 1960 were childless at age 45 compared to 35 percent of white women
born in the same time period.
Brueckner and the study's lead author Natalie Nitsche, a graduate
student in sociology at Yale, analyzed data from the U.S. Census
Bureau's Current Population Survey to uncover marriage and family trends
among black women with postgraduate degrees. The Current Population
Survey has surveyed approximately 50,000 households monthly for more
than 50 years to collect data on the American labor force.
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905,
is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists
in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and
promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.