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Yearning, learning and conceding: (Some of) the reasons people change their childbearing intentions


  • Maria Iacovou
  • Lara Patr√åcio Tavares


Peopleís childbearing intentions change over the course of their reproductive lives. These changes have been conceptualised as occurring in response to the realisation that an individual is unlikely to achieve his or her intended fertility, because of constraints such as the biological clock or lack of a partner. In this paper we find that changes to childbearing plans are actually influenced by a much wider range of factors than this. People change their plans in response to the wishes of their partners, in response to social norms, as the result of re-partnering, and as the result of learning about the costs and benefits of parenthood; there are also differences between the factors which influence menís and womenís decision-making. A key feature of this paper is that, in a departure from existing studies in this area, we use a flexible analytical framework which enables us to analyse increases in planned fertility separately from decreases. This allows us to uncover several complexities of the decision-making process which would otherwise be hidden, and leads us to conclude that the determinants of increases in planned fertility are not simply equal and opposite to the determinants of decreases.

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  • Maria Iacovou & Lara Patr√åcio Tavares, 2010. "Yearning, learning and conceding: (Some of) the reasons people change their childbearing intentions," Working Papers 029, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  • Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:029

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    1. François Bourguignon & Amedeo Spadaro, 2006. "Microsimulation as a tool for evaluating redistribution policies," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(1), pages 77-106, April.
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    3. Aaberge, Rolf, et al, 2000. " Unemployment Shocks and Income Distribution: How Did the Nordic Countries Fare during Their Crises?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 77-99, March.
    4. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Icek Ajzen & Jane Klobas, 2013. "Fertility intentions," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(8), pages 203-232, July.
    2. Warren B. Miller, 2011. "REFEREED ARTICLES - Differences between fertility desires and intentions: implications for theory, research and policy," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 9(1), pages 75-98.
    3. Eibich, Peter & Siedler, Thomas, 2016. "Retirement, intergenerational time transfers and fertility," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145746, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item


    fertility intentions; individual decision-making; constraints to childbearing; intention-behaviour mismatch; theory of planned behavior;

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