That is easier said than done: childbearing intentions and their realization in a short-term perspective

Anne-Kristin Kuhnt, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Heike Trappe, University of Rostock

This paper studies short-term fertility intentions of women and men and their subsequent behavior. On the one hand, the predictive strength of fertility intentions is of interest. On the other hand, the most important inhibiting or enabling determinants contributing to the realization of fertility intentions are analyzed. For that purpose, data of the first three waves of the German Family Panel (pairfam) are used. The theoretical model is derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior. Its validity for the realization of short-term childbearing intentions is tested in the low-fertility context of Germany. Our descriptive findings indicate a certain predictive strength of fertility intentions. Individuals with a strong desire to have a child within the next two years were most likely to do so. However, negative intentions are even more predictive for subsequent behavior. For women and men with positive fertility intentions, the chances to fail are relatively high. Multivariate results point to an overwhelming importance of stable relationships for having and realizing positive fertility intentions. Beyond that, financial security and parenthood status have a strong determining impact. With social pressure exerted by parents, subjective norms appear as an additional relevant factor for the realization of positive intentions.

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Presented in Poster Session 2