How well does fertility intention predict fertility behavior? A case study of China

Feng Wang, University of California, Irvine
Yong Cai, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Zhenzhen Zheng, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Baochang Gu, Renmin University of China

One of the major puzzles of understanding below replacement fertility is why fertility behavior in many parts of the world fails to measure up to fertility desire, as measured by the expressed desired number of children, or even fertility intention, measured by the stated plan of having a child. In this paper, we follow a cohort of reproductive aged women interviewed three years apart (2007 and 2010) in Jiangsu province, China, a locale with below replacement fertility and rapid economic and social change for two decades. We examine the relationships among fertility desire, fertility intention and fertility behavior. Analysis of data from the first wave of this study showed that over 70 percent of couples with one child did not plan to have a second child. This follow up study, using data to be collected in early 2010, will examine the linkages between fertility desire, intention, and behavior. We seek to undercover how fertility decision is made within the Chinese families and how socioeconomic factors come into play in their reproductive decisions. Such a study, based on the Chinese experience, hopes to contribute to the literature in explaining the emerging global low fertility regime, for which China has become an important component.

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Presented in Poster Session 1