Abstract

Catholic and non-Catholic fertility during the post-World War II period are compared in this paper. Evidence accumulated across five sample surveys of fertility in the United States, which were conducted at five-year intervals from 1955 through 1975, forms the basis for the analysis; both cohort and period measures are employed. Starting from a situation where Catholic fertility was very little higher than that of non-Catholics, it is shown that the differential increased markedly during the baby boom and then declined to a point where the two trends nearly come together in the mid1970s. Interpretation of the recent convergence in the light of various theories that have been put forward to explain the differential suggests that it will be an enduring phenomenon.

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