Abstract

Transition rates estimated from the 1987–1988 and 1992–1994 waves of the National Survey of Families and Households imply that a U.S. adult will spend approximately one third of the years from ages 20 to 69 as a parent of a dependent child. I distinguish biological from social parenthood and provide separate estimates by gender and race. White women conform most to the conventional image of a biological parent residing with an own child, whereas African American women spend the most adult years as a parent. On average, white men spend fewer years as parents than African American men, but African American men spend more years as biological parents not residing with any children. Implications of these descriptive findings are discussed.

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