Decomposing Trends in Non-Marital Fertility among Hispanic Women

Felicia Yang DeLeone, Cornell University

The National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that U.S. non-marital births reached a record high in 2004, when 36 percent of all births occurred to unmarried women. Significantly, 46 percent of Hispanic births occurred outside of marriage, and teenage childbearing rates were exceptionally high. We use data from the 1990-2004 NCHS’s Natality Detail File to decompose trends in non-marital fertility ratios into three proximate components: marital status, marital fertility, and non-marital fertility. Specifically, we partition 1990-2004 changes in the fertility ratio into rate and n composition components. Our paper also evaluates whether the “mix” of components varies across Hispanic subpopulations distinguished by economic and cultural assimilation into American society. The empirical results suggest whether public policies are best targeted on (1) reducing non-marital fertility rates, (2) increasing marriage (and, and by extension, marital fertility), or (3) both.

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Presented in Session 5: Demography of the U.S. Latino Population