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A U.S. Variant of Second Demographic Transition? Empirical Evidence from Young Women’s Attitudes about Childbearing

Sun, August 11, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Sheraton New York, Floor: Lower Level, Union Square

Abstract

Scholars of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) have debated where the United States fits in the trajectory of the SDT. Some have argued that the U.S. is distinct in retaining a stronger commitment to marriage than other high-income countries, due to cultural differences including greater religiosity. Others have argued that the distinct demographic profile of the U.S. is due to a segmented population, with one more advantaged group following the SDT model, and a second, less advantaged, group maintaining higher and earlier fertility than SDT would predict. Our study examines evidence that speaks to these theories, using a classification of young women’s worldviews about childbearing. We use a Latent Class Analysis of the attitudes of a sample of young women about topics related to childbearing (e.g., birth control, motherhood, career and education) that identifies six distinct worldviews. In this paper, we describe the three groups that share important features of SDT, as well as notable deviations from the predictions of SDT theory found in some of these groups. We then compare the relative disadvantage of the groups. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of SDT and disadvantage in the U.S.

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