Change Indicator

Mother Education - Births to mothers with less than a high school education in Pennsylvania

Mother Education - Births to mothers with less than a high school education

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Why This Indicator Matters

Educational attainment is defined as the highest degree or level of education completed by an individual and is predictive of many outcomes including employment status, household income, and overall health.[1], [2] Maternal educational attainment, specifically, is an important indicator to track because of its associations with birth outcomes, children’s health, and long-term socioeconomic mobility. Research has found that women who lack a basic education have almost three times higher the risk of maternal mortality than women who have graduated from high school due to increased likelihood of short birth intervals, unwanted pregnancies, and inadequate prenatal care.[3], [4] Children born to mothers who have low educational attainment are additionally more likely to have a poorer health status than those born to mothers with college degrees.[5] Living in a household without a parent who has completed high school is also associated with numerous poor educational outcomes, including low achievement scores, grade retention, and dropping out of high school all together.[6] Opportunities for socioeconomic mobility tend to be limited for children born into low-attaining, low-earning families because they lack the economic and social resources that those born into high-attaining, high-earning families use to achieve higher education.[7] These factors unfortunately perpetuate educational attainment trends in the United States and make it very difficult for children of families with low socioeconomic status to succeed.

[1] United States Census Bureau. (2021). About Educational Attainment.

[2] The Chung Report. (2017). Educational Attainment, Explained.

[3] Karlsen, S., Say, L., Souza, J. P., Hogue, C. J., Calles, D. L., Gülmezoglu, A. M., & Raine, R. (2011). The Relationship Between Maternal Education and Mortality Among Women Giving Birth in Health Care Institutions: Analysis of The Cross Sectional WHO Global Survey on Maternal And Perinatal Health. BMC Public Health, 11, 1-10.

[4] Weitzman, A. (2017). The Effects of Women's Education on Maternal Health: Evidence from Peru. Social Science & Medicine, 180, 1-9.

[5] Lawrence, E. M., Rogers, R. G., & Hummer, R. A. (2020). Maternal Educational Attainment and Child Health in the United States. American Journal of Health Promotion, 34(3), 303-306.

[6] National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2021). Characteristics of Children’s Families.

[7] Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI). (2014). Unequal Opportunities: Fewer Resources, Worse Outcomes for Students in Schools with Concentrated Poverty.

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Definition and Source



The number and percent of babies born to mothers with less than a high school degree. 

Data Source

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Health Statistics and Research. Pennsylvania Vital Statistics annual report series. The Pennsylvania Department of Health specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.


Includes only those mothers whose education level is known.

ND = DATA NOT DISPLAYED. Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

May 2024