Are more educated women in Georgia choosing not to have children?

Some social scientists, such as Satoshi Kanazawa, argue that a woman’s education level can impact her willingness to have children. However, Linda Hirshman, a scholar of women’s issues, questions Kanazawa’s findings by arguing that reproduction is a culturally-inflected decision. Additionally, Gary Becker hypothesizes that women with higher education might not feel economic pressure such that marriage is economically advantageous. Thus, they might be more likely to postpone marriage and childbirth. The Center for Social Sciences (CSS) in Georgia provides data on gender attitudes, women’s roles and sexual behavior in Georgia. According to their 2012 presentation What Do Georgians Say about Gender Issues?!, CSS found that Georgian women are more likely to eschew dominant patriarchal views with respect to gender hierarchy in education, employment and the family. Following this debate, this blog explores the relationship between education, gender, personal income, and the perceived ideal number of children in Georgia based on the 2013 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.
Data from the Statistics Office of Georgia indicates that 57% of women are economically active, while 78% of men are economically active. From these figures we see that women’s economic activity, and subsequently women’s employment rate, is lower than men’s in Georgia. Despite this, women are more likely to have higher education than men. For example, according to the 2013 CB, out of those who say they have a higher education, 57% are women and 43% are men. Nevertheless, the average monthly income among Georgian women is lower than men’s average monthly income. In addition, 34% of women say they do not have a personal income.

Note: For the question “Speaking about your personal monetary income last month, after all taxes are paid, to which of the following groups do you belong?” the options ‘Up to USD 50’ and ‘no personal income’ were combined into the USD 0-50 option.
However, despite differences in employment, average income and education, the ideal number of children for both men and women in Georgia is similar. 47% of women and 45% of men consider three children to be the most desirable number per family. For 25% of women and 23% of men, the ideal number of children is four.

Women with a higher and secondary technical education are more likely to want three children. Women with secondary technical and secondary or lower education are more likely to say they want four or more children. The same difference between figures is apparent for the option “whatever number God will give us”- more women with secondary or lower education gave positive answers compared to the other two groups. Thus, there are different perceptions of the ideal number of children by education level.

Note: For the question “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” the options incomplete higher education completed higher education (BA, MA, or Specialist degree) and post-graduate degree are combined with the partial or complete higher or graduate education option. No primary education, primary education (either complete or incomplete), incomplete secondary education and completed secondary education are combined with secondary or lower option.

This blog post has reviewed whether a woman’s educational level is related to a woman’s willingness to have children in Georgia. The post has compared personal income, education level and the ideal number of children per family for men and women. It has showed data on the ideal number of children by education level for women. From the data, we can see that education level might have a minor effect towards women’s aspiration to have children in Georgia. Although, education level does not appear to effect women’s aspirations towards childbearing in general – since three is the ideal number of children according to most men and women in Georgia. However, while the difference among women with different educational backgrounds is still notable, education is not the only influence on women’s aspiration to have children in Georgia.

For further reading, please visit the CRRC blog post on gender inequality in the South Caucasus. Information and analysis on gender statistics and women’s socio-economic conditions can be found in the annual report of the National Statistics office of Georgia. Also, please, review the Center for Social Sciences’ report’ report on attitudes of the Georgian population on gender issues.

By Maka Chkhaidze


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