Diversity in Pathways to Parenthood: Patterns, Implications, and Emerging Research Directions


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    Department of Sociology & Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

Department of Sociology & Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106 (pjsmock@umich.edu).


This review examines and synthesizes recent research on pathways to parenthood. We begin by providing basic information about patterns, differentials, and trends and discussing adoption and new reproductive technologies. We next turn to several areas of inquiry that became particularly prominent in the last decade: the continued “decoupling” of marriage and childbearing, the parental relationship context of nonmarital childbearing, family structure stability, multiplepartner fertility, and racial and ethnic variation in childbearing patterns. We then consider the implications of this body of scholarship and identify avenues for future research. Throughout, we highlight racial/ethnic and social class variation in childbearing patterns.