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Morgan, S. Philip & Chen, Renbao (1992). Predicting Childlessness for Recent Cohorts of American Women. International Journal of Forecasting, 8(3), 477-493.


Over 50% of white women now in the midst of the childbearing years have never borne a child. These levels of childlessness for women in their 20s are the highest ones in a time series that spans most of the twentieth century. Will postponed parenthood be translated into very high levels of permanent childlessness? Or will these cohorts ‘catch-up’ with a late fertility flurry in their 30s and 40s? We examine three projection strategies: one using women's stated fertility expectations, a second relying on the patterns of previous cohorts, and a third which posits that current rates will persist into the future. The predictive validity of these different projection strategies are tested with data for the 1980–1987 period. We show that the projection based on current period rates performs well. Further, we argue that it better captures the first birth process than other models. We forecast levels of 20% childless for cohorts of white women born in the early 1960s. Recent trends for nonwhites are very different than those for whites; levels of 4% are forecast for nonwhite women.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

International Journal of Forecasting


Morgan, S. Philip
Chen, Renbao