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What Are the Determinants of Delayed Childbearing and Permanent Childlessness in the United States?


  • David E. Bloom
  • James Trussell


This paper presents estimates of delayed childbearing and permanent childlessness in the United States and the determinants of those phenomena.The estimates are derived by fitting the Coale-McNeil marriage model to survey data on age at first birth and by letting the parameters of the model depend on covariates. Substantively, the results provide evidence that the low first birth fertility rates experienced in the 1970's were due to both delayed childbearing and to increasing levels of permanent childlessness. The results also indicate that (a) delayed childbearing is less prevalent among blackwomen than among non-black women, (b) education and labor force participation are important determinants of delayed childbearing, (c) the influence of education and labor force participation on delayed childbearing seems to beincreasing across cohorts, (d) education is positively associated with heterogeneity among women in their age at first birth, (d) the dispersion of age at first birth is increasing across cohorts, (f) race has an insignificant effecton childlessness, and (g) education is positively associated with childlessness, with the effect of education increasing and reaching strikingly highlevels for the most recent cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Bloom & James Trussell, 1983. "What Are the Determinants of Delayed Childbearing and Permanent Childlessness in the United States?," NBER Working Papers 1140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1140
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Bloom, 1982. "What’s happening to the age at first birth in the United States? A study of recent cohorts," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 19(3), pages 351-370, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. David E. Bloom, 1985. "On the Nature and Estimation of Age. Period, and Cohort Effects in Demographic Data," NBER Working Papers 1700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Booth, Heather, 2006. "Demographic forecasting: 1980 to 2005 in review," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 547-581.
    3. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:205-271 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Rachel Margolis & Mikko Myrskylä, 2015. "Parental Well-being Surrounding First Birth as a Determinant of Further Parity Progression," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(4), pages 1147-1166, August.
    5. repec:dem:demres:v:38:y:2018:i:19 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Olfa Frini & Christophe Muller, 2017. "Fertility Regulation Behavior: Sequential Decisions in Tunisia," Working Papers halshs-01624778, HAL.
    7. Valentina Tocchioni, 2016. "Exploring the childless universe: profiles and fertility intentions of men and women without children in Italy," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2016_09, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    8. Maria Stanfors, 2014. "Fertility and the fast-track," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(15), pages 421-458, August.
    9. Jonathan Gruber & Maria Owings, 1996. "Physician Financial Incentives and Cesarean Section Delivery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 99-123, Spring.
    10. Sarah Hayford, 2013. "Marriage (Still) Matters: The Contribution of Demographic Change to Trends in Childlessness in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(5), pages 1641-1661, October.
    11. repec:dem:demres:v:37:y:2017:i:13 is not listed on IDEAS

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