Childlessness in the United States, 1970-1995: The Role of Compositional Changes in Explaining Time Trends

Sarah R. Hayford, Arizona State University

Childlessness among American women nearly doubled between 1980 and 2000. The same period saw dramatic changes in women’s lives, notably in educational attainment and marriage rates, as well as in the race-ethnic composition of the United States population. This extended abstract uses data from the June Fertility Supplement of the 1995 Current Population Study to examine changes in childlessness among five 5-year birth cohorts of American women and to assess the role of compositional changes in explaining time trends. (The full paper will use additional Fertility Supplements to extend analyses through the early 21st century.) Preliminary results suggest that changes in marriage and, to a lesser extent, educational attainment explain about half of the population-level increase in childlessness between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s, but that trends were different for different population subgroups.

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Presented in Session 24: Aspects of the Transition to Parenthood