This paper presents evidence that women from different population subgroups respond differently to economic and background influences when timing initial childbearing. Among all groups examined, age at first birth tends to increase as education levels increase, and married women with spouses present tend to be older than other women at first childbirth. Among whites, all economic influences considered-hourly pay rate, nonmarket income, and work during the year prior to childbearing-have a significant influence in deferring first childbirth, but family background does not. Among blacks, family background plays a significant role in determining age at first childbirth, but only one economic influence-the hourly pay rate-is significant. Blacks' response to family background is somewhat greater than their response to hourly pay rate. Race as a separate influence is significant among women age 20 years or under, but that influence disappears among older women. Because of their adverse economic consequences, adolescent pregnancies and unwed motherhood are of mounting concern. This study suggests that, contrary to popular belief, welfare programs do not foster early pregnancy nor do programs to reduce unemployment deter it. Educational achievement, however, serves as a deterrent to early pregnancy among all groups. Copyright 1987 Western Economic Association International.
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