Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 27–46 | Cite as

Individual and aggregate influences on the age at first birth

  • Nan L. Maxwell


This study examines the role of both individual adolescent expectations of market and nonmarket income and aggregate influences on first birth timing for Blacks and Whites and for three birth cohorts of American women. Using two panels of the National Longitudinal surveys, results suggest that between-race differences in age at first birth result from differences in individual expectations about market and nonmarket income. Cohort differences in age at first birth result from relationship differences in both individual and aggregate influences, with aggregate influences differentially altering the role of individual expectations on first birth timing. These results suggest that employment policies that reduce poverty and increase wages would effectively delay childbearing. For Blacks, since early childbearing results from lower expectations about future economic success, similar fertility timing patterns between the races would result if Blacks had White employment and wage levels. Over time, these employment and wage policies will not only alter individual expectations about economic success but also will alter the impact of expectations on fertility timing.


Birth Result Increase Wage Economic Success Wage Level Lower Expectation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nan L. Maxwell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsCalifornia State UniversityHaywardUSA

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