Race/Ethnic Differences in Fertility Behaviors: Early Childbearing and Number of Children

Sandra M. Florian, University of Southern California

Using the GSS 1994-2008, I analyze racial/ethnic differences in fertility behaviors among Whites, African Americans, Mexicans, other Hispanics, and Asians. I focus on two key elements of family formation, age of initiation of childbearing, and age-specific cumulative fertility, estimated by the number of children ever born. I use survival analysis and discrete-time Cox regression to analyze the age at time of first birth. A Poisson regression is used to compare the number of children ever born. The analysis reveals that racial differences in fertility behaviors are greatly explained by the timing of motherhood initiation. African Americans and Hispanics have significantly greater risks of having a first child at younger ages compared to Whites. However, the racial/ethnic differences in the total number of children are small after we control for women’s age at time of first birth. Structural opportunities seem to pattern childbearing behaviors. This analysis supports the racial stratification perspective.

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Presented in Poster Session 7