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Step-families and Childbearing Desires in Europe


  • FFF1Elizabeth NNN1Thomson

    (Stockholms Universitet)


Increases in union stability and non-union childbearing during the latter half of the 20th century produced substantial increases in the prevalence of step-families. Research on step-family fertility in several European countries and the United States show that, net of a couple’s combined number of children (hers, his and theirs), birth risks are elevated when the child is the couple’s first or second. These patterns have been interpreted in terms of unique values of first and second shared children that overcome costs of rearing larger numbers of children in stepfamilies. Such inferences require that all births are wanted or that unwanted births are as likely for couples with as for those without stepchildren. Analyses of several European fertility and family surveys show that previously observed patterns of stepfamily childbearing are replicated in desires for another child, providing stronger support for motivational explanations of childbearing patterns in step-families.

Suggested Citation

  • FFF1Elizabeth NNN1Thomson, 2004. "Step-families and Childbearing Desires in Europe," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(5), pages 117-134, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:drspec:v:3:y:2004:i:5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Janet Griffith & Helen Koo & C. Suchindran, 1985. "Childbearing and family in remarriage," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(1), pages 73-88, February.
    2. Susan Stewart, 2002. "The effect of stepchildren on childbearing intentions and births," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(1), pages 181-197, February.
    3. Lee Lillard & Linda Waite, 1993. "A joint model of marital childbearing and marital disruption," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(4), pages 653-681, November.
    4. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Van Bavel & Mieke Jansen & Belinda Wijckmans, 2012. "Has Divorce Become a Pro-Natal Force in Europe at the Turn of the 21st Century?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(5), pages 751-775, October.
    2. Elizabeth Thomson & Maria Winkler-Dworak & Martin Spielauer & Alexia Prskawetz, 2012. "Union Instability as an Engine of Fertility? A Microsimulation Model for France," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 175-195, February.
    3. Trude Lappegård & Marit Rønsen, 2013. "Socioeconomic Differences in Multipartner Fertility Among Norwegian Men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(3), pages 1135-1153, June.

    More about this item


    Europe; fertility; fertility desires; stepfamily;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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