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Is Stepfamily Status Associated With Cohabiting and Married Women’s Fertility Behaviors?

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  • Karen Benjamin Guzzo

    () (Bowling Green State University)

Abstract

Abstract Children from prior relationships potentially complicate fertility decision-making in new cohabitations and marriages. On the one hand, the “value of children” perspective suggests that unions with and without stepchildren have similar—and deliberate—reasons for shared childbearing. On the other hand, multipartnered fertility (MPF) research suggests that childbearing across partnerships is often unintended. Using the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth and event-history models, I examine the role of stepfamily status on cohabiting and married women’s fertility and birth intendedness, with attention to union type and stepfamily configuration. Adjusting for covariates, women in stepfamily unions are more likely to have a first shared birth in a union than women in unions in which neither partner has children from past relationships, but stepfamily births are less likely to be intended than unintended. Further, this association varies by union type: married women have similar birth risks across stepfamily status, but births are less likely to be intended in marital stepfamilies. For cohabitors, women in a stepfamily are more likely to have a birth than women in nonstepfamily unions, with no differences in intendedness. Configuration (whose children and how many) also matters; for instance, women with one child from a past relationship are more likely to have a birth and to have an intended than unintended birth than women with other stepfamily configurations. It appears that children from either partner’s prior relationships influences subsequent fertility decision-making, undermining the utility of the “value of children” perspective for explaining childbearing behaviors in complex families.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Benjamin Guzzo, 2017. "Is Stepfamily Status Associated With Cohabiting and Married Women’s Fertility Behaviors?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 45-70, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s13524-016-0534-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-016-0534-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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