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Family Formation in France: Individual Preferences and Subsequent Outcomes

  • Laurent Toulemon
  • Maria Rita Testa
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    In France, as in all European countries, the birth of a first child has been increasingly delayed over time, but the reasons why individuals decide to postpone the time to become a parent still remain to be deeply investigated at the micro level. In this prospective study we analyse fertility preferences and subsequent reproductive behaviour of childless people, and implement a model that uses desires, or intentions, with their related timing, as key covariates. Results show that desired and intended fertility are a strong predictor of subsequent family formation, even after controlling for the effects of other relevant variables, and people become more realistic about their short-term childbearing plans when asked to assess their personal chance to have a future birth. Moreover, highly educated people anticipate their own transition to parenthood more precisely, as compared to low educated people. Age is the most crucial factor determining the probability to remain involuntarily childless in the interval between the surveys, while persistent childlessness is mostly associated with the lack of a partner if it is a consequence of a deliberate choice to postpone childbearing.

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    File URL: http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/0xc1aa500d_0x00144e0f
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    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): 4 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 41-75

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    Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:41-75
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/

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    1. Elizabeth Thomson, 1997. "Couple childbearing desires, intentions, and births," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 343-354, August.
    2. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    3. Monique Meron & Isabelle Widmer, 2002. "Les femmes au chômage retardent l'arrivée du premier enfant," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 57(2), pages 327-357.
    4. S. Morgan, 1981. "Intention and uncertainty at later stages of childbearing: the united states 1965 and 1970," Demography, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 267-285, August.
    5. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    6. Charles Westoff & Norman Ryder, 1977. "The Predictive Validity Of Reproductive Intentions," Demography, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 431-453, November.
    7. Elizabeth Thomson & Yvonne Brandreth, 1995. "Measuring fertility demand," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 81-96, February.
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