Social Role Effects on Fertility Intentions during the Transition to Adulthood

Jeremy Staff, Pennsylvania State University
Rebekah Young, Pennsylvania State University
John Schulenberg, University of Michigan
Jennifer E. Lansford, Duke University
Gregory S. Pettit, Auburn University

Fertility intentions are strong predictors of family behavior and fertility. Yet, intentions frequently exceed realized fertility, suggesting that some young adults are either unable to meet their expectations or that their intentions change. We use 30 cohorts (1976 to 2005) of nationally representative data from the Monitoring the Future study to examine how role transitions account for changes in the correspondence between fertility intentions and childbearing from ages 19 to 28. As women and men have children, they tend to adjust their fertility expectations to be consistent with the number of children already born. Other family and non-family transitions have little effect on intentions. Regarding the disjunction between intended and realized parity, young adults are less likely to desire more children than they currently have when they are married. College enrollment, educational attainment, and holding a professional job increase the likelihood that intentions will exceed realized fertility, especially for women.

  See paper

Presented in Session 99: Fertility Intentions and Behaviors over the Life Course