The importance of income for fertility intentions and subsequent behaviour amongst childless Norwegian men

Rannveig Kaldager, Statistics Norway

This study investigates how income affects childless Norwegian men’s fertility intentions and subsequent behaviour. Increasing childlessness amongst Norwegian men, combined with higher prevalence of childlessness amongst men with lower incomes, calls for more information of how income affects the fertility decision making of Norwegian men. This study uses a unique combination of Norwegian survey data and a six year long register-based follow-up eliminates serious problems that routinely plague panel surveys. All statistical models control for the sociodemographic variables age, education and having a partner. The effect of income on fertility intentions is modelled with two nested models, using multinomic and binomic logistic regression. The results show that lower income decreases the likelihood of intending to have a child at all. Amongst men who intend to have a first child, lower income decreases the likelihood of planning to have a child within four years. Realisation of fertility intentions is analysed with logistic regression of discrete time event history data. The estimates show a positive association between income and the risk of having a first child. Various explanations of the importance of income for men’s planned fertility in a society with generous welfare benefits and egalitarian gender values are discussed. An explanation based on competing interests does not seem to fit in this case. A decreasing relative preference for children is discussed, but seems to be an insufficient explanation in a generous welfare state. Based on previous research on fertility intentions, it is reasonable to interpret postponement of fertility intentions as a response to hindrances, particularly in finding a partner. The results indicate that the higher childlessness of men with lower income is not fully voluntary. The findings also indicate that Norwegian men still perceive breadwinning as an important part of parenting.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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