Catherine Rampell asks
Perhaps this has something to do with Claudia Goldin’s findings that some of the fields that require the most educational investment upfront — like pediatrics, or veterinary medicine — also happen to be fields whose work schedules allow for a healthy work-family balance. High-achieving women who want children may be discovering this, and making their career choices accordingly.
Are there other explanations for why the country’s most educated women are more likely to have children today than they were in the 1990s?
That is, highly educated women today are not drawn from the same pool as highly educated women of yesterday.
40 year old female professional / PhD in the 1990s had to have started down that track in the late 70s when it was far more rare and they faced higher social costs.
It is likely that only those who really wanted to pursue professional / PhD careers endured those costs. They were then more likely to pursue their career to the exclusion of other things.
Now, the costs are lower and more women who want these career but also want children are choosing to pursue advanced degrees.