Volume 12 - Article 4 | Pages 77–104  

A cross-over in Mexican and Mexican-American fertility rates: Evidence and explanations for an emerging paradox

By Reanne Frank, Patrick Heuveline

Abstract

Against a backdrop of two new developments in the fertility behavior of the Mexican- Origin population in the U.S., the present discussion will update contemporary Mexican-Origin fertility patterns and address several theoretical weaknesses in the current approach to minority group fertility. Data come from six national surveys (three from Mexico and three from the U.S.) that cover a twenty-five year period (1975-2000). The findings demonstrate dramatic decreases in the fertility rates in Mexico at the same time that continuous increases have been documented in the fertility rates of third-or-later generation Mexican-Americans in the U.S., particularly at younger ages.
These changes necessitate a reexamination of the ubiquitous theory that Mexican pronatalist values are responsible for the high fertility rates found within the Mexican-Origin population in the U.S. Instead, they point to the increasing relevance of framing the fertility behavior of the Mexican-Origin population within a racial stratification perspective that stresses the influence of U.S. social context on fertility behavior. As a step in this direction, the analysis examines fertility patterns within the Mexican-Origin population in the U.S. Special attention is given to the role of nativity/generational status in contributing to within group differences.

Author's Affiliation

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