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Report Number P20-575
Lindsay M. Monte and Renee R. Ellis
Component ID: #ti362758503


This report describes the fertility patterns of women in the United States, patterns which have changed significantly over time. The average number of children ever born has dropped from more than three children per woman in 1976 to about two children per woman in 2012 (see Figure 1). Recent years have also seen drops in adolescent childbearing and increases in non-marital births.

These changes in fertility are important because recent research suggests that women’s childbearing is related to their rates of employment, their educational attainment, and their economic well-being. Furthermore, other research connects the circumstances into which a child is born to that child’s later outcomes, including their likelihood of living in a single-parent household and their academic achievement. This report utilizes fertility data collected in the June 2012 Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), as well as the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), to discuss these and other trends.

This report has three sections: cumulative fertility, births in the last year, and relationship status at first birth. Fertility patterns are shown by women’s race, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and employment status, as well as their state of residence. This report also examines new topics, such as women’s marital status at the time of their first births, the completed fertility of women up to age 50, and the fertility patterns of young women.

Component ID: #ti718567414


Some highlights of the report are:

• Births to adolescents continued to decline.

• More than one in five women with a birth in the past 12 months reported at the time of the survey that they were living in someone else’s home.

• The majority of first births occur in marriage, as they have for decades, but the most recent cohort of young mothers is much more likely to have had their first birth in a cohabiting relationship than in marriage.

Table 1

Table 1. Women's Number of Children Ever Born by Age and Marital Status: June 2012

Table 2

Table 2. Children Ever Born, Number of Mothers, and Percent Childless by Age and Marital Status, and by Nativity: June 2012

Table 3

Table 3. Children Ever Born and Percent Childless by Age and Marital Status: June 2012

Table 5

Table 5. Mothers' Relationship Status at First Birth by Age at First Birth, by Current Age and Marital Status: June 2012

Additional File Formats

Additional file formats can be accessed in our archives.

Component ID: #ti718567413

Source and Accuracy

Current Population Survey:

Component ID: #ti718567412

American Community Survey:

Accuracy of the Data

A basic explanation of the sample design, estimation methodology, and accuracy of the data

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