White-Hispanic Differences in Meeting Fertility Intentions over the Life Course

Caroline Sten Hartnett, University of Michigan

Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort, I explore whether higher fertility among Hispanics compared with Whites reflects the preferences of individuals within those groups, and how the process of exceeding or falling short of intentions over the life course helps explain fertility differentials between the groups. Although Hispanics come closer to achieving early-life parity intentions in the aggregate (Hispanic women fall short by a quarter of a birth, compared to more than two-fifths for Whites), at the individual level, they are not more likely to meet their intentions (34% of Hispanic women achieve their desired parity, compared with 38% of Whites). Hispanics have higher parity than Whites both because they intend to have more children and they are more likely to exceed their intended parity. Hispanic-White differences in exceeding intentions seem to be related to acculturation, religious differences, and an earlier age-schedule of childbearing.

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Presented in Session 102: Fertility Research in a Comparative Perspective