A recent study by the Institute for Economic Research Etla has revealed an unexpected result: highly educated women are more likely to find a spouse and have children by the age of 37, while this is not the case for men. This contradicts previous assumptions that education makes it difficult for women to start a family but helps men find a relationship. Both highly educated women and men have a spouse and children more frequently than those with secondary education, who in turn have a family more often than those with only primary school education. However, there is still little research on the cause and effect relationships in this area.
The study compared register data of individuals born between 1979-1985 who pursued secondary education or university of applied sciences, including those who barely exceeded or barely fell below the admission limits. 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%, while access to a university of applied sciences increased it further by another 5%. The study found that these results are likely due to the fact that jobs held by educated people are more flexible according to family needs, making them desirable partners for reproduction. However, this effect was close to zero for men, possibly because they may be delaying starting families later in life due to their higher level of education.
Research manager Hanna Virtanen speculated that these results could be explained by cultural norms around gender roles and expectations regarding parenthood. While these findings cannot be generalized to all educated and uneducated people, they provide valuable insights into how education affects family formation.
Overall, this study challenges previous assumptions about the role of education in family formation and highlights the need for further research on this topic.