To influence the number of children ever born to a woman, socioeconomic variables must operate through behavioral and biological mechanisms such as the age at marriage, the level of fertility in the absence of deliberate fertility control, and the level of control exerted to reduce fertility within marriage. In this paper, we propose a new measure of cumulative fertility which is standardized for the age-fecundity relationship and for exposure to the risk of conception associated with duration of marriage. A simple model of fertility behavior which incorporates some of the mechanisms through which socioeconomic factors may affect fertility is developed and applied to data from the United States to demonstrate the properties of alternative measures of family size. The results indicate that use of the new measure allows more precise estimates of socioeconomic fertility relationships than would be obtained with children ever born or by sample stratification.

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