The Effect of the Timing of First Birth on Fertility Differentials: An Application of Hurdle Models

Sandra M. Florian, University of Southern California

In the U.S. disadvantaged racial minorities start having children at younger ages and have more children than Whites. These patterns are linked to social inequality. I analyze racial differences in fertility behaviors among recent cohorts. Data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 2006-2010 and 2011-2013, reveal a small reduction in the racial differences in age at first birth and small differences in birth rates. Most of the racial differences are concentrated at low levels of education; no significant racial differences exist among college graduates. These findings leave little room for cultural explanations to account for racial differences in fertility behaviors and instead support the racial stratification perspective, suggesting that racial minorities are exposed to social contexts conductive to early and higher fertility. Results confirm a strong decoupling of marriage and childbearing, and suggest that cohabitation is becoming indistinguishable from marriage as a reproductive institution among the low educated.

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 Presented in Session P3. Fertility Intentions and Behaviors