MPIDR Working Paper

Easier said than done: childbearing intentions and their realization in a short term perspective

Kuhnt, A.-K., Trappe, H.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2013-018, 31 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (December 2013)
Open Access


This paper studies the short-term fertility intentions of women and men and their subsequent behavior. On the one hand, the predictive strength of fertility intentions is of interest. On the other hand, the most important determinants that inhibit or enable the realization of fertility intentions are analyzed. Data from the first three waves of the German Family Panel (pairfam) are used in the analysis. The theoretical model is derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior. Its validity for the realization of short-term childbearing intentions is tested in the low-fertility context of Germany. Our descriptive findings indicate that fertility intentions have a certain predictive strength. Individuals who reported a strong desire to have a child within the next two years were the most likely to have had a child. However, negative intentions were even more predictive of subsequent behavior. For the women and men with positive fertility intentions, the chances of failure were relatively high. The multivariate results suggest that being in a stable relationship was by far the most important determinant of whether individuals had and realized positive fertility intentions. In addition, financial security and parenthood status were strong determinants. Social pressure exerted by the parents was also a factor, as subjective norms appear to have affected the realization of positive intentions.
Keywords: Germany, family demography, fertility
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