It is often said that women are freezing their eggs in increasing numbers because they are too focused on their careers to bear children. But a new study from Yale University posits that there is another, more prevalent reason why educated, successful women are opting to preserve their eggs for a later date: they can’t find eligible men to settle down with.
As Broadly reports, Marcia Inhorn, a professor of anthropology and international affairs at Yale, recently presented her findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva, Switzerland. (The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Inhorn and her co-authors interviewed 150 women who had completed one cycle of oocyte cryopreservation — or egg freezing, in lay terms — at one of eight clinics in the United States and Israel. More than 80 percent of the subjects were highly educated, having earned at least a graduate degree.
The researchers determined that most of the women were not freezing their eggs because they were putting their careers first. On the contrary, they wanted to find a partner and start a family.
“It was clear early on but confirmed by the end of this study that the main reason this group of highly educated women were freezing their eggs, usually in their late 30s and early 40s, is that they had been unable to find a partner committed to, basically, marriage and family building with them,” Inhorn told Broadly. “In almost all cases, women told me they had been trying all throughout their education and careers to find a partner in life, but that it hadn’t happened yet.”
The study posits that its subjects have been unlucky in love because there is a “dearth of educated men to marry.” There is in fact a gender gap when it comes to higher education. A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that since 2000, degree attainment rates among 25 to 29 years olds have been higher for females at every education level.
“[I]t’s not the women,” Inhorn told Broadly. “It’s that there literally are now sharp demographic disparities for women who would like to be with an educated partner.”
Read more at Broadly.