Volume 46 - Article 2 | Pages 37–64  

Nativity differentials in first births in the United States: Patterns by race and ethnicity

By Andrés F. Castro Torres, Emilio Parrado


Background: While recent decades have seen gradual convergence in ethno-racial disparities in completed fertility in the United States, differences in the age pattern of first births remain. The role of nativity has not been fully understood.

Objective: This paper examines how first births vary by nativity, and how this variation contributes to more significant racial and ethnic differentials.

Methods: Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth (1997–2017), we jointly estimate the correlates of the timing of first births and childlessness. We assess differences between immigrants and US-born and child-migrant women across ethno-racial groups.

Results: The unique first-birth patterns among foreign-born women have a notable impact on Hispanics, reducing differences from Whites in the average age at first birth and contributing to more significant differentials in childlessness. The impact of immigrant women on White and Black first births is more modest in scope.

Contribution: Our work shows the importance of nativity for ethnic/racial disparities in the timing and quantum of fertility in the United States. We demonstrate how the migrant population is more determinant for Hispanic fertility patterns than for Black or White. We conclude by elaborating on the implications of these results for future research as the immigrant population in the United States becomes ethnically and racially more diverse.

Author's Affiliation

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