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The Future of American Fertility

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  • Samuel H. Preston
  • Caroline Sten Hartnett

Abstract

This paper reviews the major social and demographic forces influencing American fertility levels with the aim of predicting changes during the next three decades. Increases in the Hispanic population and in educational attainment are expected to have modest and offsetting effects on fertility levels. A cessation of the recent pattern of increasing ages at childbearing will at some point put upward pressure on period (but not cohort) fertility rates. Higher relative wages for women and better contraception have empowered women and fundamentally altered marriage and relations between the sexes. But women's childbearing has become less dependent upon stable relations with men, and educational differences in intended fertility have narrowed. One explanation of higher fertility in the U.S. than in other developed countries is that its institutions have adapted better to rising relative wages for women and the attendant increase in women's labor force participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2008. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 14498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14498 Note: AG CH
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adam Isen & Betsey Stevenson, 2010. "Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility," NBER Chapters,in: Demography and the Economy, pages 107-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Leontine Alkema & Adrian Raftery & Patrick Gerland & Samuel Clark & François Pelletier & Thomas Buettner & Gerhard Heilig, 2011. "Probabilistic Projections of the Total Fertility Rate for All Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(3), pages 815-839, August.
    3. Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi, 2015. "Do Highly Educated Women Choose Smaller Families?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1191-1226, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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