Examining the Antecedents of U.S. Nonmarital Fathering using Two National Datasets

Marcia J. Carlson, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Natasha Pilkauskas, Columbia University
Alicia VanOrman, University of Wisconsin at Madison

The dramatic rise in U.S. nonmarital childbearing in recent decades has generated considerable attention from both researchers and policymakers alike, particularly with respect to the implications for women and children. In turn, an extensive literature has examined the factors that predict women’s nonmarital childbearing. Far less is known about the antecedents of nonmarital fatherhood, largely because data about men, especially low-income men who are disproportionately unmarried fathers, have been much less readily available. In this paper, we use data from two national datasets with multinomial logit models and event history analysis to examine the antecedents of contemporary U.S. nonmarital fathering. Preliminary results suggest that black and Hispanic men are much more likely to have a child outside of marriage, and higher education and older age at first sex strongly diminish the likelihood of having a nonmarital birth. We discuss the implications of our results for future research and public policy.

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Presented in Session 162: Comparative Perspectives on Nonmarital Fertility