How diverse is American society and are Americans becoming more or less diverse? Contemporary discussions claim high and increasing diversity, but analyze few actual trends. This paper examines completed family size diversity from 1940 to 2000 by race and across US states. For all groups, regions and the USA as a whole, family size diversity decreased significantly, produced by a combination of fewer small and large families and a general decline in regionally-based differences. Both within and across states the diversity declined in two stages, but regional clusters of states followed different paths. A cluster of Southern Mountain states showed the greatest contrast. Between the 1940s and the early 1970s, a slight baby boom rise in diversity among homogeneous states, was counterbalanced by declining diversity in more diverse states. Black women in all states and white women in Mainstream and Other states showed similar trends during the baby boom years, while white women in the Southern Mountain states failed to show a baby boom increase in large families. For childbearing completed since 1975, regional patterns disappeared and both the range and level of diversity declined further. A national and essentially homogeneous culture of childbearing, initiated during the baby boom years and now facilitated by birth control and abortion, has settled in at below-replacement levels. While the possibility always exists that childbearing pattern might change, there is no current evidence to suggest movement away from this low and homogeneous fertility.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 29, 2004
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