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1

Natalie Nitsche & Sarah Hayford

The Impact of Early Fertility Desires on Union Formation (and Timing) among US Men and Women

While it is well known that early fertility desires affect childbearing behavior, it is not yet understood whether these early preferences may also predict union formation behavior. Drawing on data from the NLSY79, we investigate whether the desired number of children during early adulthood is linked to first marriage hazards, and, in addition, whether this preference-behavior relationship varies across educational attainment. Indeed, our results show a significant relationship between these early desires and subsequent marriage behavior. We find, first, that men who reported in adolescence that they wanted no children or only one child experienced slower transitions to first marriage than men who wanted two children. Second, men who wanted three or more children as well as more highly educated women who wanted three or more children were also slower to marry than those who reported wanting only two children. Our findings highlight the relevance of examining preferences and behaviors with respect to both, union formation and childbearing, from a holistic perspective. They also underscore the importance of investigating fertility desires as a possible driving force in the life courses of men.

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Natalie Nitsche & Sarah Hayford

Preferences, Partners, and Parenthood: Linking Early Fertility Desires, Union Formation Timing, and Achieved Fertility

‘Underachieving’ fertility desires is more common among women with higher levels of education and those who delay the first marriage beyond the mid-twenties. However, the relationship between these patterns, in particular the degree to which marriage postponement explains lower fertility among the highly educated, is not well understood. In this paper, we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1979 cohort to analyze differences in parenthood and achieved parity for men and women, focusing on the role of union formation timing in achieving fertility goals over the life course. We expand on previous research by distinguishing between entry into parenthood and average parity among parents as pathways to underachieving; by considering variation in the impact of marriage timing by education and by stage of the life course; and by comparing results for men and women. We find that the most educated women who desired three or more children are less likely to become mothers both relative to less-educated counterparts who desired large families and relative to their college-educated peers desiring two children. Once they achieve motherhood, however, they do have the highest average parity. No comparable fatherhood differential by desired family size is present. Postponing marriage beyond the age of 30 is associated with decreases in parenthood and average parity. Age patterns are similar for both women and men, pointing at social rather than biological factors for the underachievement of fertility goals.

 

3

Natalie Nitsche & Sarah Hayford

Do Adolescents Have Distinct Life Visions? Exploring Latent Class-Profiles of Early Life Preferences

Using data from the NLY79 and SEM and mixture modeling and measurements on desired childbearing, union-formation, educational and occupational life outcomes, this paper estimates latent class profiles of envisioned life trajectories.

Further Findings

1

Natalie Nitsche, Alessandra Trimarchi, Marika Jalovaara

Couples’ Educational Pairings, Selection into Parenthood, and Second Birth Progressions

Recent research on couples’ fertility indicates that in some contexts couples with two highly educated partners have higher transition rates to second and third births, compared to couples with one or two lower educated partners. Yet, it is not well understood to what extent this is due to an underlying selection process, which already pre-selects certain couples to make the transition to parenthood, may be an artefact of broad education definitions of tertiary educated individuals in one ‘high’ educated group, or may be due to educational upgrading between the first and second birth. We address this question by using Finnish register data, finer grained education measurements of high and low tertiary education, measures for educational upgrading, and a joint model for the transition to first and second births among co-residential couples, adjusting for unobserved heterogeneity. Our results confirm that homogamous tertiary educated couples in Finland have the highest second birth transition rates among all educational pairings, regardless of low or high tertiary education or combinations thereof. This remains the case even after taking the selection into parenthood and unobserved heterogeneity into account. The differences in second birth rates to the other types of couple become smaller, though, suggesting that part of the elevated birth rates of these ‘power couples’ is due to selectivity into first birth.

2

Natalie Nitsche & Erich Striessnig

Living Arrangements of Children Today and Fertility Rates Tomorrow: A Regional Analysis across Europe

Fertility has declined to below replacement levels across Europe, despite cross-country and regional variation and continuous change. At the same time, children’s living arrangements have changed and vary widely across European regions. Leaning on STD theory, we hypothesize that there may be a direct linkage between the proportion of children growing up in ‘non-traditional’ family forms, such as with single or cohabiting parents, and regional fertility rates. If non-traditional ‘childrearing cultures’ are widespread in a region, they may signal to individuals of childbearing age that having children does not necessarily mean having to spend life in a married nuclear family-form only, but that other child-rearing arrangements are socially acceptable. Using LFS Data from 2002-2016 and regional total and age specific fertility rates from 2016, we will test whether regional living arrangement-regimes of children predict macro-level fertility rates a few years later. First findings show indeed a significant yet complex relationship.

3

Natalie Nitsche & Daniela Grunow

Couples’ ideological pairings and housework sharing:
Negotiating Money and Time among Parents with Matching and Mismatching Gender Ideologies

This paper examines the gendered division of housework among couples in Germany, testing a possible intra-couple mechanism which may be driving it. We extend the literature by investigating whether relative resources may have a differential impact on how partners divide housework contingent on the partners’ agreement on gender ideology, or ideological pairings. We hypothesize that whether partners are in agreement or conflict regarding gender ideology will shape negotiation processes over work-divisions, and how socio-economic resources may be used as ‘bargaining chips’ in the process. Using multi-level growth curve modeling and data from the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam), we will compare estimates from random and fixed-effects estimators. Preliminary findings indeed indicate a differential relationship between changes in her absolute income and housework sharing by ideological pairing.