This paper analyzes cross-cohort trends in the age pattern of women at first birth in the United States. The analysis involves fitting the Coale-McNeil marriage model to the age distribution of first birth frequencies for a number of recent white and nonwhite cohorts. Methodologically, the results (a) provide support for the application of the Coale-McNeil marriage model to first birth data, and (b) demonstrate the ability of the model to accurately project first birth fertility for cohorts which have yet to complete their childbearing years. Substantively the results indicate (a) that the proportion of women who will never have a first birth is increasing across cohorts and can be expected to be as high as .25 and .20 for recent white and nonwhite cohorts respectively; (b) that recent nonwhite cohorts have an appreciable number of first births at earlier ages than their white counterparts, as well as a lower mean age at first birth and increasingly less dispersion (across cohorts) in their age at first birth; and (c) that the mean age at first birth and the proportion of first births occurring between ages 25 and 34 is increasing across cohorts of white women but is stable across cohorts of nonwhite women.

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