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Fertility preferences: what measuring second choices teaches us

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  • Anne Gauthier
  • Christoph Bühler
  • Joshua Goldstein
  • Saskia Hin
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    Abstract

    This article aims to strengthen the research methodology for studies of fertility preferences. Knowledge of personal fertility ideals is important both for demographers and policy makers, but the measurement techniques currently employed are not very refined. We suggest that the information provided by asking people about their personal ideal number of offspring can be improved in quality when asking them to also consider alternative preferences. The results of a survey conducted in the Netherlands demonstrate how measuring second (and, if desired, further) choices improves our ability to differentiate between different population subgroups. Moreover, it brings to light individuals' openness to their `second best ideals'. Including questions on alternative ideals in surveys thus enhances the qualitative potential of studies on fertility ideals and adds a new dimension to research on the how and why of fertility gaps between desired and achieved fertility.

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    File URL: http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/0xc1aa500d_0x002a70f9
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna in its journal Vienna Yearbook of Population Research.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 131-156

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:9:y:2011:i:1:p:131-156

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    Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. Lolagene Coombs, 1979. "Reproductive goals and achieved fertility: A fifteen-year perspective," Demography, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 523-534, November.
    2. Ian Dey & Fran Wasoff, 2010. "Another Child? Fertility Ideals, Resources and Opportunities," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 29(6), pages 921-940, December.
    3. William Axinn & Marin Clarkberg & Arland Thornton, 1994. "Family influences on family size preferences," Demography, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 65-79, February.
    4. Catherine Hakim, 2003. "A New Approach to Explaining Fertility Patterns: Preference Theory," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(3), pages 349-374.
    5. John Knodel & Visid Prachuabmoh, 1973. "Desired family size in Thailand: Are the responses meaningful?," Demography, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 619-637, November.
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