The Institutionalization and Pace of Fertility in American Stepfamilies

Jui-Chung Allen Li, New York University

This paper compares nonparametric fertility rates for American women in stepfamilies and intact-families using data from the June 1995 Current Population Survey. Results show that childbearing behaviors in stepfamilies resemble those in intact families. Regardless of stepfamily status, the timing and level of fertility for second and third marital births are identical for all women at the same lifetime parity. Fertility patterns are also similar for all first marital births, except a constant difference of three years in the pace of fertility. These findings are consistent with (a) the institutionalization hypothesis of stepfamily processes; (b) lifetime parity as the primary determinant of female fertility; and (c) women in stepfamilies attempting to catch up on their lost fertility outside of marriage.

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Presented in Session 19: Timing of Childbearing: Life Course and Relationship Contexts