Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 59–79 | Cite as

Are Generation X’ers Different than Late Boomers? Family and Earnings Trends among Recent Cohorts of Women at Young Adulthood

  • Christopher R. Tamborini
  • Howard M. Iams


This article examines emerging trends in childbearing, marital status, and earnings for U.S. women over young adulthood across recent birth cohorts spanning the late baby boom and Generation X. We use a unique dataset that matches the 1990, 1996, and 2004 fertility and marital history modules of the Survey of Income and Program Participation with Social Security Administration longitudinal earnings records derived from survey respondents’ own tax records. While there have been some cohort-level changes, we find little empirical evidence of large-scale shifts in the family and earnings histories of young adult women born toward the end of Generation X, particularly college graduates, relative to their late baby-boom counterparts at the same stage of the life course. The broader implications of our findings and directions for further research are discussed.


Generation X Women Family and earnings Young adulthood Social Security longitudinal earnings data 



We thank the Editor and the anonymous reviewers of Population Research and Policy Review for helpful comments and suggestions. The authors also thank Hilary Waldron, Irena Dushi, and Glenn Springstead for valuable comments. The findings and conclusions presented in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the U.S. Social Security Administration. The administrative earnings data used in this paper are restricted use; users must receive approval of the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Retirement PolicyU.S. Social Security AdministrationWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Office of Research Evaluation and StatisticsU.S. Social Security AdministrationWashingtonUSA

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