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Observations on the History of Cohort Fertility in the United States

Norman B. Ryder
Population and Development Review
Vol. 12, No. 4 (Dec., 1986), pp. 617-643
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1973429
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1973429
Page Count: 27
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Observations on the History of Cohort Fertility in the United States
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Abstract

The total fertility rate in the United States declined from 4.0 for women born in the late 1860s to 1.9 for those born in the early 1950s; the decline seems for now to have ceased. Decomposition of the time series into parity progression ratios shows that the "baby boom" was predominantly a result of increase in progression from parities one and two. The progression ratios for parities three, four, five, and six show declines that are not only virtually monotonic, but also virtually identical. Such similarity would suggest that there is no process of selection with advancing parity. A model is developed to demonstrate that there is selectivity with respect to intended fertility, counterbalanced in the overt series by the tendency for exposure to risk to decline but success in terminating fertility to rise with advancing parity. A further inference from the model is that the intrinsic rate of natural increase over the entire period would, if unintended births were excluded, have averaged zero.

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