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The Transition to Motherhood: The Intersection of Structural and Temporal Dimensions


Rindfuss, Ronald R.; Morgan, S. Philip; & Swicegood, C. Gray (1984). The Transition to Motherhood: The Intersection of Structural and Temporal Dimensions. American Sociological Review, 49(3), 359-72.


Prior work on the determinants of the first-birth process can be divided into three approaches: (1) time-series analysis focusing on description and determinants of trends; (2) cross-sectional studies examining childlessness or adolescent fertility; and (3) life-course studies dealing with the timing of fertility relative to other events. Drawing on these traditions, our conceptual framework places the first-birth process within, respectively, an aggregate-time dimension indicated by period or cohort, an individual-time dimension indicated by the respondent's age, and a social-structural dimension indicated by the respondent's ascribed and achieved characteristics. By pooling six fertility surveys spanning the 1955-1976 period, and examining conditional birth probabilities, our analysis incorporates each of these dimensions. Each dimension is important. Aggregate time exerts powerful and pervasive effects. Socio-structural variables have nonproportional effects-that is, their effects vary with individual time. The effects of the social-structural variables tend not to interact with the aggregate-time dimension. Finally, predictive power generally declines with individual time.


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Journal Article

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American Sociological Review


Rindfuss, Ronald R.
Morgan, S. Philip
Swicegood, C. Gray

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