Volume 26 - Article 3 | Pages 63–98

Couple disagreement about short-term fertility desires in Austria: Effects on intentions and contraceptive behaviour

By Maria Rita Testa

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Date received:21 Sep 2010
Date published:03 Feb 2012
Word count:9675
Keywords:childbearing decisions, contraceptive use, couple decision-making, fertility decision-making


Background: Because of the dyadic nature of reproduction, the couple is the most suitable context for studying reproductive decision-making.

Objective: I investigate the effects of couple disagreement about short-term childbearing desires on the formulation and implementation of fertility intentions. Do men and women incorporate the perception of a disagreement with the partner about wanting a(nother) child now in their reports on short-term fertility intentions and contraceptive behaviour? Are there relevant differences by type of disagreement, parity, gender and gender equality within the couple?

Methods: Using individual-level data from the Austrian Generation and Gender Survey conducted in 2008, I regress respondent’s short-term fertility intentions (ordinal regression models) and non-use of contraception (logistic regression model) on couple’s short-term childbearing desires and a set of background variables.

Results: The findings show that disagreement is shifted toward a pregnancy intention\pregnancy- seeking behaviour at parity zero and toward avoiding pregnancy and maintaining contraceptive use at higher parities. Childless women are less responsive to the perception of their partner’s desires than childless men when they express their short-term childbearing intentions. Neither women nor men are likely to stop contraception if they perceive a disagreement with their partner about wanting a(nother) child. Moreover, if the man is actively involved in childcare duties the chance to resolve the couple conflict in favour of childbearing increases.

Conclusions: This paper calls for the collection of data from both members of each couple so that the analysis of the partner’s actual desires can complement the analysis of the partner’s perceived desires.

Author's Affiliation

Maria Rita Testa - Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali "Guido Carli", Italy [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» When partners’ disagreement prevents childbearing: A couple-level analysis in Australia
Volume 44 - Article 33

» Are daughters’ childbearing intentions related to their mothers’ socio-economic status?
Volume 35 - Article 21

» Certainty of meeting fertility intentions declines in Europe during the 'Great Recession'
Volume 31 - Article 23

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