Mexican-origin fertility: New patterns and interpretations

Frank D. Bean, C. Gray Swicegood, Ruth Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. This paper examines how fertility levels of Mexican-origin women vary across generational groups and how these levels compare with those of majority non-Hispanic whites. Methods. The data for this study were obtained by pooling the individual records of women of childbearing age from the June 1986 and June 1988 Current Population Surveys (CPS). Results. On balance, the findings show a picture of fertility behavior among Mexican-origin women that is not the consequence of self-identification or emigration selectivity and only partially the consequence of the operation of assimilation processes. Third-or-later-generation women show levels of cumulative and current fertility that are not only higher than those of non-Hispanic white women, they are also higher than those of second-generation women, thus illustrating the limitations of the assimilation perspective for explaining extant ethnic patterns of childbearing. Conclusions. The comparatively high fertility of Mexican-origin women (especially those involving the third-or-later generations) may have a significant impact on the future size and ethnic composition of the United States. If the differentials continue at the magnitude shown in this research, and if levels of life expectancy and immigration remain stable, then the major component of growth in the relative size of the Hispanic population over the next half century will be natural increase caused by differential fertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-420
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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