Fertility Decline in the Civil Rights Era
12 Pages Posted: 10 May 2017
Date Written: May 8, 2017
The Civil Rights Movement, and in particular passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, initiated a period of rapid improvements in the socioeconomic opportunities and civil inclusion of Southern African Americans, including advancements in labor market opportunities, educational access, and infant health outcomes, among other measures. Many of these factors have been shown to influence fertility behavior, but fertility responses to the broad changes associated with the Civil Rights Movement have not been widely studied. This note documents large post-1964 declines in the fertility of Southern African American women relative to Southern whites and to African Americans outside the South. I find that between 1964 and 1970, the difference in the general fertility rates of Southern African Americans and Southern whites fell by 40%, and that the difference in the general fertility rates of Southern African Americans and non-Southern African Americans fell by 71%. Similar relative declines in the completed childbearing of Southern African Americans from impacted cohorts are also observed. Future research investigating the specific mechanisms underlying these trends is warranted.
Keywords: Fertility, Civil Rights Act
JEL Classification: J13, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation