Community Context and Race/Ethnic Differences in Non-Marital Fertility

Elizabeth M. Wildsmith, University of Texas at Austin

Drawing from theory based on Black-White differences, this research uses the NSFG and the NSFG-CDF to look at the role that structural/economic factors play in maintaining Mexican American/White differences in non-marital fertility. Multilevel event history models are employed. While many county level variables have a 'baseline relationship' with non-marital fertility, controlling for race/ethnic specific unemployment rates do the most to reduce race/ethnic differences in the risk of a non-marital birth. Importantly, there are significant interactions between individual level socioeconomic status and county level characteristics on the risk of a non-marital birth. While Mexican American women of low socioeconomic status are no different than White women, higher SES Mexican American women have 5 times the risk compared to otherwise similar White women. Additionally, county level variables are more strongly linked to the risk of a non-marital birth among women of higher socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Session 83: Non-Marital Fertility