Does It Matter What She Wants? The Role of Individual Preferences Against Unmarried Motherhood in Young Women’s Likelihood of a Nonmarital First Birth

Does It Matter What She Wants? The Role of Individual Preferences Against Unmarried Motherhood in... Most young people in the United States express the desire to marry. Norms at all socioeconomic levels posit marriage as the optimal context for childbearing. At the same time, nonmarital fertility accounts for approximately 40 % of U.S. births, experienced disproportionately by women with educational attainment less than a bachelor’s degree. Research has shown that women’s intentions for the number and timing of children and couples’ intent to marry are strong predictors of realized fertility and marriage. The present study investigates whether U.S. young women’s preferences about nonmarital fertility, as stated before childbearing begins, predict their likelihood of having a nonmarital first birth. I track marriage and fertility histories through ages 24–30 of women asked at ages 11–16 whether they would consider unmarried childbearing. One-quarter of women who responded “no” in fact had a nonmarital birth by age 24–30. The ability of women and their partners to access material resources in adulthood were, as expected, the strongest predictors of the likelihood of nonmarital childbearing. Nonetheless, I find that women who said they would not consider nonmarital childbearing had substantially higher hazards of fertility postponement and especially of marital fertility, even after controlling for race/ethnicity, mother’s educational attainment, family of origin intactness, self-efficacy and planning ability, perceived future prospects, and markers of own educational attainment and work experience into early adulthood. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Demography Springer Journals

Does It Matter What She Wants? The Role of Individual Preferences Against Unmarried Motherhood in Young Women’s Likelihood of a Nonmarital First Birth

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Population Association of America
Subject
Social Sciences; Demography; Sociology, general; Population Economics; Medicine/Public Health, general; Geography, general
ISSN
0070-3370
eISSN
1533-7790
D.O.I.
10.1007/s13524-017-0586-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Most young people in the United States express the desire to marry. Norms at all socioeconomic levels posit marriage as the optimal context for childbearing. At the same time, nonmarital fertility accounts for approximately 40 % of U.S. births, experienced disproportionately by women with educational attainment less than a bachelor’s degree. Research has shown that women’s intentions for the number and timing of children and couples’ intent to marry are strong predictors of realized fertility and marriage. The present study investigates whether U.S. young women’s preferences about nonmarital fertility, as stated before childbearing begins, predict their likelihood of having a nonmarital first birth. I track marriage and fertility histories through ages 24–30 of women asked at ages 11–16 whether they would consider unmarried childbearing. One-quarter of women who responded “no” in fact had a nonmarital birth by age 24–30. The ability of women and their partners to access material resources in adulthood were, as expected, the strongest predictors of the likelihood of nonmarital childbearing. Nonetheless, I find that women who said they would not consider nonmarital childbearing had substantially higher hazards of fertility postponement and especially of marital fertility, even after controlling for race/ethnicity, mother’s educational attainment, family of origin intactness, self-efficacy and planning ability, perceived future prospects, and markers of own educational attainment and work experience into early adulthood.

Journal

DemographySpringer Journals

Published: Jul 5, 2017

References

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