Does Family Complexity in Childhood Explain Race-Ethnic Disparities in Multipartner Fertility?

Jake Hays , The Ohio State University
Karen B. Guzzo, Bowling Green State University

We investigate whether family complexity is transmitted across generations, and whether such a process may explain higher levels of multipartner fertility (MPF) among Blacks and Hispanics. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort, we test whether family complexity—which encompasses family structure (living with two biological parents until age 18) and the presence of half- or step-siblings—in adolescence predicts higher-order births with a new partner versus a prior partner, with a focus on race-ethnicity. We find that those who lived in a non-two biological parent household, regardless of whether they had half- or step-siblings, are at an increased risk childbearing with a new partner. Family structure and sibling configuration does not mediate race-ethnic differences in the odds of MPF in adulthood. Instead, race is a moderator: family complexity in adolescence predicts childbearing with a new partner for Hispanics and Whites, but not for Blacks.

See paper

 Presented in Session 131. Family Complexity and Diversity