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Journal Article

The Varying Connection between Marital Status and Childbearing in the United States

Ronald R. Rindfuss and Allan M. Parnell
Population and Development Review
Vol. 15, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 447-470
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972442
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972442
Page Count: 24
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The Varying Connection between Marital Status and Childbearing in the United States
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Abstract

Despite the acknowledge relationship between marriage and reproduction, surprisingly little attention has been paid to how close this relationship is. This article addresses a straightforward question: To what extent is a woman's marital status related to the likelihood of her conceiving a child during the following year? The answer is complex because the effect of marital status interacts with race, education, and parity. In general, the difference in the fertility behavior of married versus unmarried women is largest for white, better educated, and lower parity women. Often the differences between the marital status groups are small, and sometimes fertility probabilities are higher for unmarried women. Further, the pattern of relationships provides surprising insight into the sources of cumulative fertility differences by race and education. The results suggest that racial and educational variation in fertility arises from differences in behavior among members of these group while they are unmarried rather than when they are married. The standard race and education differentials in fertility are not present among the currently married.

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