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Cohort Effects on Nonmarital Fertility


  • Jean Stockard

    () (University of Oregon Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management)

  • Jo Anna Gray

    () (University of Oregon Economics Department)

  • Robert O'Brien

    (University of Oregon Sociology Department)

  • Joe Stone

    () (University of Oregon Economics Department)


The authors employ a newly developed method to disentangle age, period and cohort effects on nonmarital fertility ratios (NFR) from 1972 to 2002 for U.S. women aged 20-44 – with a focus on three specific cohort factors: family structure, school enrollment, and the ratio of men to women. All play significant roles in determining NFR and vary substantially for whites and blacks. Indeed, if black women and white women had cohort characteristics typical of the other group, age-specific NFRs for black women would decline markedly, while those for whites would increase markedly. Hence, cohort related variables contribute substantially to black-white differences in NFR in adulthood. Early family structure and education are particularly crucial in the racial differences. Most distinctively, while the impact of school enrollment on NFR is significantly negative for whites, the impact is significantly positive for blacks, perhaps due to the dominance of the “independence” effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean Stockard & Jo Anna Gray & Robert O'Brien & Joe Stone, 2007. "Cohort Effects on Nonmarital Fertility," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2007-10, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 May 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2007-10

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    More about this item


    fertility; cohort; unmarried births; education; family structure; sex ratio;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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