A1 Journal article – refereed
Whether to have a second child or not? An integrative approach to women's reproductive decision-making in current China

List of Authors: Liu J., Lummaa V.
Publisher: Elsevier Inc.
Publication year: 2019
Journal: Evolution and Human Behavior
Journal name in source: Evolution and Human Behavior
Volume number: 40
Issue number: 2
ISSN: 1090-5138
eISSN: 1879-0607


The transition to low fertility worldwide has led to introduction of diverse frameworks across disciplines to understand its causes and consequences. Previous attempts to compare the relative importance of the key factors influencing women's fertility decision-making largely focused on a single rather than multiple steps of decision-making—an important problem if different factors are associated with different steps. Furthermore, insufficient attention has been paid explicitly to husband's and already-born children's influences, two potentially important factors. Here we introduce a framework covering three steps of reproductive decision-making—ideal family size, fertility desire and fertility intention—and test it using multi-level survey data collected from Chinese one-child mothers. Mother's attitudes towards having two children were paramount factors underlying her ideal family size, and husband's and the firstborn child's attitudes were critical to her desire to have a second child, which in turn played a decisive role in her intention to have a second child. Although husband's attitude was related to all steps, most factors were only relevant to one step; e.g., perceived child mortality and value for old-age security predicted ideal family size, admiration—a prerequisite for social learning—for two-child families predicted fertility desire, and physical/economic constraints primarily predicted fertility intention. Our study emphasizes multiple decision-makers in family reproduction; indicates the relative importance of fertility-influencing factors could vary with steps of decision-making; and has important implications for population policy in low-fertility societies.

Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 10:19