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Early entry to fatherhood estimated from men's and women's survey reports in combination

Rendall, M.S., Admiraal, R., Handcock, M.S. and Joyner, K. (2006) Early entry to fatherhood estimated from men's and women's survey reports in combination. In: The National Survey of Family Growth Research Conference, 19 - 20 October, Hyattsville, MD, USA



While underreporting of fatherhood is a widely acknowledged problem, satisfactory methods for its correction have yet to be developed. In the present study, we investigate methods of correction that are specific to marital status at the time of the birth and at the time of retrospective reporting, focusing on fatherhood under age 30. Matched women’s and men’s survey reports of births, in each case reported by marital status and age of the father, form the basis for our corrections. Male age-specific fertility rates are estimated from these survey data by using women’s reports for the births numerator and men’s reports for the exposed-years denominator. These are shown to match well to male age specific fertility rates estimated from population data sources. When marital births in the men’s and women’s survey data are differentiated by whether the birth is within a current or previous marriage, only for births in previous marriages is there a male reporting deficit. Further, this deficit is completely explained by under-representation of men’s exposed years in previous marriages. We find no evidence of underreporting of births for those exposed years. These results are used to develop a constrained maximum likelihood estimator in which male fertility is constrained by age and marital status, with a focus on correcting for underreported non-marital fertility.

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