Title page for ETD etd-04032006-173356

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Chancey, Laurie
Author's Email Address lchancey@lsu.edu
URN etd-04032006-173356
Title Voluntary Childlessness in the United States: Recent Trends by Cohort and Period
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mariano Sana Committee Chair
Joachim Singelmann Committee Member
Susan A. Dumais Committee Member
  • contraception
  • fertility
  • childfree
  • diffusion
Date of Defense 2006-03-31
Availability unrestricted
Most large-scale studies on voluntary childlessness since the waning of the baby boom provide cross-sectional estimates for a single time period. They cannot be synthesized to estimate change because of the varied definitions used to operationalize voluntary childlessness. In this study, I use data from the 1973-2002 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to estimate change in voluntary childlessness using a consistent definition by period and birth cohort. I find that voluntary childlessness stayed relatively constant through the seventies and eighties, but showed a large increase from the mid-nineties to 2002. I show that voluntary childlessness increased in recent years because baby-boomers postponed childbearing until they no longer desired it, and younger women born in the seventies are now deciding to remain childless earlier. I discuss the role of these younger women in establishing a ceiling for voluntary childlessness. I also provide initial results supporting the theory that voluntary childlessness is diffusing among women of lower education and higher religiosity.
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