The effect of work-related attitudes and expectations on fertility intentions and subsequent childbearing

Anneli Miettinen, Väestöliitto
Lassi Lainiala, Väestöliitto
Anna Rotkirch, Väestöliitto

We investigate the link between intentions and realized fertility by focusing on how employment and career related activities, expectations and attitudes interfere with an individual’s fertility decisions and modify corresponding behavior. Our study draws on the framework provided by the theory of planned behavior (TPB, Ajzen 2002; Ajzen & Fishbein 2005) and studies of Barber (2001) and Philipov (2009).The TPB posits that socioeconomic and cultural background conditions are reflected in fertility decisions via attitudes and norms as well as beliefs of personal control over individual’s behavior. According to this view, attitudes towards childbearing and children predict fertility intentions, which then predict (fertility) behavior. Barber (2001) expanded this to include the impact of attitudes and intentions related to competing behaviors, such as educational attainment and employment, and proposed that attitudes towards competing behaviors may affect the fertility intentions–behaviors -link via all three dimensions—fertility attitudes, intentions, and perceived (or actual) behavioral control—which define fertility behavior. Philipov (2009) further examined also the impact of competing intentions as well as corresponding behavior on fertility intentions and subsequent births. We expect that positive attitudes towards work and career will negatively affect fertility intentions and, independently, their realization, the impact being stronger for women than for men. We examine if attitudes influence intentions and behavior once we control for background factors. We also expect that the impact both supportive and conflicting attitudes will be stronger for childless persons than parents. We use data from a survey conducted in 2008 among 25-39-year-old Finnish men and women with 0 or 1 child, linked with register data on births during 2008-2011 allowing us to investigate short-term realization of fertility plans. We apply logistic regression to analyze how attitudes and expectations towards employment/career are associated with parity-specific fertility intentions (differentiating between general fertility desires and short-term intentions) and subsequent childbearing.

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Presented in Session 52: Employment and fertility