Higher Education, Expectations and Family Outcomes

Guenther Fink, Harvard University

In this paper, we use longitudinal data from the US to analyze the evolution of fertility expectations and birth outcomes of young adults over the period 1979-2004. We show that actual family sizes achieved lie significantly below the initially desired and expected levels, and that this difference is particularly pronounced for females with higher education. With show that this gap can be decomposed into three distinct channels: first, female college graduates underestimate their age of marriage; second, female college graduates systematically underestimate the difficulties in combining career and motherhood; last, female college graduates are overoptimistic with respect to the time needed to achieve a given family goal.

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Presented in Session 123: Education: Causes and Effects