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New Approaches to Measuring Multipartnered Fertility Over the Life Course

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Download PDF versionDorius, Cassandra. 2012. "New Approaches to Measuring Multipartnered Fertility Over the Life Course." PSC Research Report No. 12-769. 8 2012.

Background: Scholarly work on multipartnered fertility (also known as MPF) has relied on samples and measurement techniques that provide only a partial view of this emerging family form. New research is needed which considers adults who have completed their childbearing and have final MPF statuses—allowing for more accurate assessments of prevalence and a better understanding of the variety of pathways adults may take into MPF over the life course.

Objective: This paper explores new data and measurement techniques for assessing multipartnered fertility with the intention of moving focus away from a dichotomous view of having children with more than one person towards an understanding of MPF salience, timing, and duration. Care is taken to address ongoing problems with measuring multipartnered fertility, including identifying unique birth partners, assessing nonresident fathers, and estimating missing cohabitation and marriage dates.

Methods: The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979-2010 women's sample is used for this example. Women were eligible for inclusion if they were alive at the final survey, were consistently assessed by NLS, and missed fewer than five waves of data collection, N= 3,962.

Conclusions: By utilizing the proposed methods researchers will be able to measure MPF in broader and more dimensional ways and provide nationally representative estimates of multipartnered fertility prevalence, number of birth partners, start dates, duration, and the timing of the MPF experience relative to other key events. This data also provides researchers with the opportunity to link MPF histories with women's and children's self-reported wellbeing over time.

Country of focus: United States of America.

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