Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15–44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2011–2015

Questions for Gladys Martinez, Statistician, and Lead Author of “Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15–44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2011–2015

Q: Why did you decide to examine fertility measures in the United States?

GM: This report provides basic information about four fertility measures for the nation using data from the 2011-2015 National Survey of Family Growth for women and men aged 15-44: percentage of men and women who have ever had a biological child, how many children they have, the timing of first births, and birth spacing. Differences are shown by age, marital or cohabiting status, education, income, and Hispanic origin and race.


Q: How did the rates estimates vary by gender for women and men?

GM: Some comparisons of the fertility estimates in this report are made for women and men, but these differences were not the focus of the report. Some differences for women and men include the percentage who have ever had a child. By age 40-44, 85.0% of women and 80.4% of men have ever had a child. Among women and men who have ever had a child, the average age at first birth was 23.1 for women and 25.5 for men, similar to the estimates from 2006-2010. The average number of births was 1.2 for women and 0.9 for men.


Q: How did the rates estimates vary by Hispanic origin and race?

GM: Some differences by Hispanic origin and race that are shown in the report include that non-Hispanic Asian women had the highest mean age at first birth (26.7) across all groups shown (24.1 for non-Hispanic white women, and 21.5 for Hispanic women and 21.2 for non-Hispanic black women ). The probability of having a first birth before age 20 was highest for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black women (28%) and lowest for non-Hispanic Asian women (4%).


Q: How did the estimates vary by educational level?

GM: Some differences by educational attainment included that women and men with lower levels of education were more like to have had a birth, to have had more children, and have had their first child at a younger age. For example, among women aged 22-44 who have ever had a child, 53.9% of women with less than a high school education had their first birth before age 20. This percentage for women with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was 5.5%. In this report, education was measured at the time of interview, not at the time of the child’s birth. Differences by education are shown for women and men aged 22-44 since many of those ages 15-21 have not completed their education.


Q: Were there any major changes in the fertility estimates from previous years?

GM: In this report some comparisons of the overall estimates for the percentage of men and women who have ever had a biological child, how many children they have, the timing of first births, and birth spacing for 2011-2015 are made with 2006-2010. Most estimates were similar across the two time points. One difference was that the average number of children born to women decreased from 1.3 in 2006-2010 to 1.2 in 2011-2015 .

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