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Measuring the Effects of the Timing of Marriage and First Birth

Margaret Mooney Marini
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Feb., 1981), pp. 19-26
DOI: 10.2307/351414
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/351414
Page Count: 8
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Measuring the Effects of the Timing of Marriage and First Birth
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Abstract

Age at first marriage and age at first birth are highly correlated and have been used interchangeably as indicators of the timing of entry into adult family roles. This paper considers the measurement and analytic specification of the effects of the timing of entry into marriage and parenthood when estimates of the independent causal effects of these variables are desired. It is suggested that these effects be analyzed by estimating the effects of age at first marriage and the length of the first birth interval, while considering the effect of premarital pregnancy as an additional causal factor. Data from a 15-year follow-up study of high school students originally surveyed in 1957-1958 and resurveyed in 1973-1974 are used to illustrate the advantages of this specification when studying the effects of the timing of marriage and first birth on fertility.

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