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The Transition to Motherhood: The Intersection of Structural and Temporal Dimensions

Ronald R. Rindfuss, S. Philip Morgan and C. Gray Swicegood
American Sociological Review
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Jun., 1984), pp. 359-372
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095280
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Transition to Motherhood: The Intersection of Structural and Temporal Dimensions
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Abstract

Prior work on the determinants of the first-birth process can be divided into three approaches: (1) time-series analysis focusing on description and determinants of trends; (2) cross-sectional studies examining childlessness or adolescent fertility; and (3) life-course studies dealing with the timing of fertility relative to other events. Drawing on these traditions, our conceptual framework places the first-birth process within, respectively, an aggregate-time dimension indicated by period or cohort, an individual-time dimension indicated by the respondent's age, and a social-structural dimension indicated by the respondent's ascribed and achieved characteristics. By pooling six fertility surveys spanning the 1955-1976 period, and examining conditional birth probabilities, our analysis incorporates each of these dimensions. Each dimension is important. Aggregate time exerts powerful and pervasive effects. Socio-structural variables have nonproportional effects-that is, their effects vary with individual time. The effects of the social-structural variables tend not to interact with the aggregate-time dimension. Finally, predictive power generally declines with individual time.

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