Identifier

etd-04032006-173356

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

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.

Date

2006

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mariano Sana

Included in

Sociology Commons

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