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Fertility desires and expectations: persistence and change over six years

Anna Reimondos, Australian National University
Edith E. Gray, Australian National University

Little is known about the way attitudes towards childbearing change over the life course. Using data from an Australian panel study, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey, we study stability and change in individual fertility desires and fertility expectations over six years. We investigate: (1) how stable fertility desires and expectations are over time; and (2) whether life course events such as partnership formation and childbirth lead to a change in desires and/or expectations. Results show that individual’s desires and expectations vary considerably over time, but that instability is strongly related to changes in circumstances. We find that: those who have low desire for children tend to not change their minds over time; having a second child lowers fertility desires; and that forming a cohabiting relationship or marriage is associated with an increase in both the desire and expectation of having a child, with a larger effect for expectations.

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Presented in Session 159: Fertility