HARVIN COLUMN: Census study shows education makes a difference in women’s lives
The findings of a new study show that mothers with infant children in the U.S. are more educated than they ever have been. And they are more likely to be older and married by the time children arrive.
That’s good news for a generation of children that will grow up with more opportunities and a better quality of life just because their mothers are better able to provide the necessities and the niceties of family life. Statistics show there will be fewer children growing up in abject poverty, and more of them will be likely to stay in school for a good education.
Studies from around the world concentrate on a woman’s quality of life as an indicator of how likely her family is to succeed and flourish.
The increase in education for women is a long-term trend, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. The study found that in 2011, about two-thirds (66 percent) of mothers had at least some college education, while 34 percent had a high school diploma or less and just 14 percent lacked a high school diploma. The analysis of the census data found that with education also comes the greater likelihood that women will be married when they have children. About six in 10 mothers with less than a high school diploma were unmarried, while only 9 percent of women with at least a bachelor’s degree were unmarried.
With those statistics also come age variations. According to the study, almost half of new mothers without a high school diploma are younger than 25, while only 3 percent of new mothers with a bachelor’s degree are younger than 25.
The Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester county census numbers for 2011 reflect the nationwide statistics. The majority of mothers in Charleston County, 660 out of every 1,000, had some form of college experience. The same trends hold true for Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
For women with less than a high school education, the numbers were 163 in 1,000 for Charleston County; 145/1,000 for Berkeley County and 113/1,000 for Dorchester County.
If you think women aren’t making progress, you only have to look back to 1960 to see the difference we have made in educating women and, thus, their families.
In 1960, only 17 percent of mothers with infants had any college experience, and 82 percent of mothers had only a high school education or less, according to the census figures.
The data also pointed out that the problem of young, unwed mothers is still a real problem, although the numbers are getting smaller.
The study says only “20% of those without a high school diploma are married, compared with 37% of high school graduates and 36% of women with some college experience. More than half (56%) of women ages 15 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree are married.”
All of this is good news for our society. It’s good to know that 50 years can make a difference. And we know that a mother with more education is more likely to give birth to a healthy child. The children have better skills in school and tend to achieve higher educational goals. And a family with both a mother and a father is more likely to have a better quality of life, both emotionally and financially.
So now it’s time to concentrate on those at the bottom, and work with those very young, unwed mothers so their kids will have a better shot in life, too.
To read the full report, go to postandcourier.com.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5557.