More than one-quarter of U.S. women with two or more children have children with more than one man, according to a new study, the first national survey of “multiple partner fertility.”
The study found that, overall, 28% of women with two or more children had children by different men. The rate was 59% among African American women with two or more children compared with 35% among Hispanic women and 22% among white women, said the author of the study Cassandra Dorius, a demographer at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Dorius presented her study Friday at the annual meeting of the Population Assn. of America.
The study was unique because it analyzed data from almost 4,000 women who were interviewed more than 20 times over a 27-year period. The women had completed their child-bearing years by the time of the final interview.
Dorius found that having children by more than one man is a phenomenon that impacts all racial, income and educational sub-groups. It is tied to marriage and divorce as well as single parenthood.
The impact of multiple partner fertility is important, she said.
“Raising children who have different fathers is a major factor in the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage,” Dorius said in a news release. “Juggling all of the different needs and demands of fathers in at least two households, four or more pairs of grandparents, and two or more children, creates a huge set of chronic stressors that families have to deal with for decades.”
The women who had multiple fathers for their children said they ended up having more children than they had said was “ideal” when they were young adults.