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Expand chart
Data: Hazan and Zoabi, 2015, via a World Economic Forum article; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

More education typically leads to fewer children — but now, demographers say American women with an advanced degree are having more kids on average than those with only bachelor's degrees.

The big picture: Increased education and opportunity for women has been a key driver of globally falling fertility rates and aging populations. But in the U.S., the trend over several decades seems to be reversing itself among the most educated women, according to data from the World Economic Forum — possibly because they're in a better financial and social position to have children.

Between the lines: Because of financial barriers, economic concerns or the desire for more leisure time, most young adults in the U.S. expect to have fewer kids than they consider ideal, according to a recent survey by The New York Times and Morning Consult.

  • But women with more advanced degrees are often in a better financial and occupational position to have their ideal number of children.
"[W]omen with advanced degrees are more likely to be well-off than those with undergraduate degrees, and married to a high earner, and therefore able to afford to have more children."
— Eric Kaufmann, demographer and professor at Birkbeck College, University of London

The number of kids considered ideal tends to decrease with better educated women, according to Wolfgang Lutz, the founding director of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital. But the most educated women are more able to plan and have the family size they consider ideal.

  • While this trend has been noted in other wealthy countries — particularly those with high gender equality, such as Scandinavia — it's not a universal trend. South Korea, for example, has the highest level of female education of OECD countries, but also has the lowest overall fertility rate, Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute, tells Axios.

Go deeper:

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13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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