A recent study by the Institute for Economic Research Etla has revealed an intriguing finding: while women with advanced education are more likely to find a spouse and have children by the age of 37, this is not the case for men. This contradicts previous assumptions that education would make it difficult for women to start a family but help men find a relationship.
In fact, both highly educated women and men are more likely to have a spouse and children than those with secondary or only primary school education. However, there is still very little research on the cause and effect relationships in this area.
The study looked at the effect of education level by comparing the register data of individuals born between 1979-1985 who pursued secondary education or university of applied sciences. Those who barely exceeded or barely fell below the admission limits were included in the study. 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. In contrast, access to secondary education increased the number of children for women by 5%, and access to a university of applied sciences by a further 5%, compared to those who were left out. The group believes that education increases the number of women’s children because the jobs of educated people are more flexible according to family needs, making them desirable partners for reproduction. However, in men, this effect was close to zero for some reason or another.
Research manager Hanna Virtanen explained that these results differ significantly from what was previously assumed and there is no clear explanation for this discrepancy yet. She speculated that one possible explanation is that men who have reached university may be delaying starting families due to other priorities such as career advancement or personal interests. Another possibility could be that having higher levels of education gives people a greater sense of financial stability and security which makes them more attractive as potential partners.
While these findings cannot be generalized to all educated and uneducated people, they provide valuable insights into how education can affect family formation patterns.
Overall, this study challenges traditional assumptions about how higher levels of education impact family formation patterns and highlights how much more research is needed in this area.