Fertility trends, maternal characteristics, and poverty in the American South

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This paper first reports descriptive evidence of the fertility patterns and characteristics of mothers in the American South and compares them with mothers in other regions of the country using data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Women in the South tend to have their children at younger ages than those in the Midwest and Northeast. Mothers in the South also have much lower levels of education and are more likely to be African American or Hispanic compared with women in the Midwest and Northeast. Next, using the Current Population Survey, the author decomposes the difference in the poverty rates in the New England Census division, the division with the lowest poverty rates historically, and each of the southern Census divisions to determine the contribution of several maternal characteristics to this poverty gap. Results suggest that low levels of maternal education as well as the racial composition of the South largely contribute to the high rates of poverty there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-46
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Poverty
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007


  • American South
  • Poverty
  • Regional fertility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Sociology and Political Science


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