- The actual trend is the opposite of what was expected—around 23% of men with a college degree remain childless, and this level has been consistent over the last decades. The majority of highly educated women in Sweden now instead have their first child with a man who has lower education – though the man still has a higher income. There is thus no evidence that there is more competition among women for highly educated male partners, says Margarita Chudnovskaya. In the wake of this development, she wanted to investigate what distinguishes men who remain childless after finishing their degree from those who have a child by age 40. Using high-quality Swedish register data she studied all college-educated men in Sweden born 1945-1974. In addition to income, there are important differences across field of study. Men who graduated with degrees in technology (including computer programming), humanities and theology, and fine arts have the highest likelihood of remaining childless. In contrast, men with degrees in education, medicine, and health and social care all have a lower likelihood of childlessness. Men's preferences are also likely to play a role: men who study in technical fields or in the humanities may be less interested in having children. It seems likely, however, that an important part of the explanation has to do with challenges these men might face in finding a partner. Men with higher incomes may also be the kind of men who are more attractive to women, perhaps because they offer security or are more ambitious in their careers.
-This study promotes our understanding of romantic relationships in Sweden today. College education has traditionally been a desirable social status attribute—but these findings suggest that higher education is not a priority for highly educated women, says Margarita Chudnovskaya. These results have major implications for understanding future family developments abroad. Nearly every OECD country has a similar gender imbalance in higher education and college educated women increasingly partner with lower educated men. Other countries are likely to see a trend similar to Sweden, and this trend could be explained by the fact that education loses some important as a marker of status. Instead men’s likelihood of becoming fathers will depend on their field of education and income.
See a short movie about the research here: https://youtu.be/oUWfgQZinuY