Lonely Workers, Students, and Others: The Career and Relationship Antecedents of Delayed Fatherhood

Matthew Weinshenker, University of Chicago

Over the past few decades, growing numbers of men in the U.S. have become biological fathers for the first time after turning 30. In this paper, I use a combination of descriptive statistics, cluster analysis, and event history methods to assess competing hypotheses that explain delayed fatherhood in the NLSY79 (N = 5175) in terms of culturally-linked background factors and work and intimacy during early adulthood. Early adult behavior is much more important than background. In particular, men who spend their 20s living without a spouse or cohabiting partner, and subsequently marry or cohabit, are likely to become delayed fathers. So are men who spend a significant portion of their 20s in school and then graduate or leave. The results show that although there is some tendency for delayed fathers to fit a stereotypical demographic profile, they are diverse overall in terms of race, family background, and socioeconomic attainment.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design