When you say the word millennial, one of the first things that comes to mind is "well-educated." Studies and news reports flaunt that millennials are the best educated generation, and that they want to impart the importance of education to their children. But the numbers suggest that the image of a family headed by college-educated, millennial parents is far less common than we think. So just how many millennial moms have graduated from college?
John Hopkins University researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which looked at 9,000 Americans who were between the ages of 26 and 31. They reported that, of the millennial women surveyed who had given birth, 81 percent lacked a college degree. Conversely, over 36 percent of all millennial women aged 25–34 have a bachelor's degree, according to a 2013 study by the National Institute for Women's Policy Research.
So why is there such a disconnect between the number of millennial women who have degrees and the number of millennial mothers who have degrees?
Some of it may be due to the fact that more educated women delay having children. More educated women are also more likely to wait until marriage to start having kids — and most of these women are getting married later. Among the women studied, 74 percent of millennial moms without a college degree had a child when they were single.
“If marriage retains its place anywhere, it would be among college graduates, because most of them do not begin to have children until after they are married.” John Cherlin, one of the authors of the John Hopkins study, wrote.
“The difference between them and the non-college-educated with regard to the percentage of births within marriage is so striking as to suggest a very different experience of early adulthood,” he added.
Some millennial women are unsure of whether they want to have kids at all. “A lot of women on the fence feel like they should be feeling a deep longing to raise a child, and the truth is they don’t,” Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix said in an interview with New York Magazine.
But for at least some millennial women, this isn't true. According to the Cassandra Report, two-thirds of millennials do want children.
Having kids — especially within a marriage — just may not be as much of a priority. "Our notion of the conventional family unit is going by the wayside," said Cassandra's president Joe Kessler.