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Working women and childbearing, United States
  • Published Date:
    February 1982
Filetype[PDF-3.92 MB]


Details:
  • Personal Authors:
  • Corporate Authors:
    National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.)
  • Description:
    This report presents statistics on age at marriage, number of children ever born, length of interval between births, and expected completed family size according to indicators of women's participation in the U.S. labor force, such as employment, occupation, and earnings. The statistics, presented in tables, are based on personal interviews with a nationally representative sample of currently married women 15-44 years of age, conducted in 1976. Generally, labor force participation was associated with a later age at 1st marriage, a smaller number of children ever born, longer birth intervals, and a lower expected family size. These associations between employment and family formation were not equally strong or even consistent across all combinations of age, race, education, and other demographic and socioeconomic variables. Approximately 73% of all currently married women had been employed for 6 months or more prior to their 1st marriage, and this premarital employment was strongly associated with a later age at 1st marriage. For all races, ages, and educational levels combined nearly 3/4 of premaritally employed women married after reaching 19 years of age compared with less than 2/5 of nonpremaritally employed women. The most marked differences in age at marriage occurred between wives with low educational levels and no premarital employment and wives with a college education who were employed prior to marriage. About 84% of wives had been employed at some time since their 1st marriage. In the aggregate, these women had borne an average of 2.0 children compared wth an average of 2.3 children ever born to wives with no work experience outside the home. The sharpest fertility differentials by this employment measure were found among women 30-44 years of age. The overall difference in the average number of children ever born to women currently in the labor force (1.8) versus those not in the labor force (2.3) was 0.5. Variations in cumulative fertility by labor force participation were greatest among younger women (15-29 years) with a college education. For white wives, those who earned less than 25% of their family incomes had borne 1 more child on the average than those who earned 50% or more. Labor force participation in the intervals between births was related to lower levels of childbearing. Generally, women who worked during any particular birth interval had lower subsequent fertility than women who did not.

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