Marital Fertility Schedules of American Women in Stepfamilies: Empirical Regularities and Behavioral Interpretations

Li, Jui-Chung Allen
Working paper no. 2003-26


This paper compares qualitative marital fertility schedules in intact- and stepfamilies using data from the U.S. June 1995 Current Population Survey. Stepfamily is defined through demographic configuration of women’s marital parity and lifetime parity. Substantial empirical regularities in fertility schedules are identified. Marital fertility schedules are similar for women in both intact- and stepfamilies: Conditional on a woman’s lifetime parity, fertility schedules for all first marital births consistently peak at one year of marriage, and fertility schedules for second and higher-order marital births are almost identical, regardless of stepfamily status. The only exception to the similarities between stepfamily fertility and intact-family fertility is that there are crossovers in fertility schedules between first marital births in stepfamilies and all subsequent marital births that are resolved as a difference in “pace” by horizontally shifting fertility schedules by a constant of 36 months. I propose behavioral interpretations of these findings in view of stepfamily processes, suggest qualifications regarding temporality to existing theories of stepfamily fertility, and speculate on implications for population dynamics.