Abstract

We use vital registration data published since 1979 to update trends in the timing of first births. Two important trends are documented. First, the likelihood that childless women over age 30 will have a first birth has increased since the 1970s. This change shows that women born in the 1950s are “catching up” on fertility postponed at younger ages. Second, racial differences in the timing of first births are very large. For those born in the 1950s, nonwhites have first births much earlier, and far fewer nonwhite than white women will remain permanently childless. In the second part of the paper, we use these data for recent years to assess earlier projections of childlessness based on cohort and period approaches. We also assess the accuracy of stated intentions to have no children.

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