Are Generation X’ers Different than Late Boomers?
Family and Earnings Trends among Recent Cohorts
of Women at Young Adulthood
Christopher R. Tamborini
Howard M. Iams
Received: 24 February 2009 / Accepted: 19 February 2010 / Published online: 14 March 2010
Ó US Government 2010
Abstract This article examines emerging trends in childbearing, marital status,
and earnings for U.S. women over young adulthood across recent birth cohorts
spanning the late baby boom and Generation X. We use a unique dataset that
matches the 1990, 1996, and 2004 fertility and marital history modules of the
Survey of Income and Program Participation with Social Security Administration
longitudinal earnings records derived from survey respondents’ own tax records.
While there have been some cohort-level changes, we ﬁnd little empirical evidence
of large-scale shifts in the family and earnings histories of young adult women born
toward the end of Generation X, particularly college graduates, relative to their late
baby-boom counterparts at the same stage of the life course. The broader impli-
cations of our ﬁndings and directions for further research are discussed.
Keywords Generation X Á Women Á Family and earnings Á Young adulthood Á
Social Security longitudinal earnings data
The last half of the twentieth century witnessed dramatic changes in women’s roles
in the workplace and family in the United States. Such changes have been marked,
on the one hand, by rising education levels and labor force participation (Blau et al.
C. R. Tamborini (&)
Ofﬁce of Retirement Policy, U.S. Social Security Administration, 500 E Street,
S.W. Room 914, Washington, DC 20254, USA
H. M. Iams
Ofﬁce of Research Evaluation and Statistics, U.S. Social Security Administration,
Washington, DC, USA
Popul Res Policy Rev (2011) 30:59–79