Although a large body of research examines early female fertility, there is considerably less demographic research on male fertility. This study seeks to fill this gap by describing the timing of early fatherhood transitions and examining the family background factors associated with early fertility transitions. The authors tested for differences in these patterns from ages 15 to 24 by sex, race, and cohort. To test the robustness of results, they used the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth and the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. With a few exceptions, estimates of the prevalence of early male fertility were relatively consistent across data sets. Although disadvantage was associated with first births to teenagers and with fertility in the early 20s, the association weakens after the teenage years. Results were more robust for white men than for men from racial minorities. The authors found only sporadic evidence that the background characteristics associated with early fertility differ for women and men, and little evidence of cohort differences. Finally, although prevalence estimates were relatively consistent across data sets, associations in regression models between background characteristics and early male fertility were not entirely consistent across data sets. (Author abstract modified)
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