Have fertility intentions become harder to realize over the last thirty years? A prospective study of Norwegian women using three surveys linked with register data

Torkild Hovde Lyngstad, University of Oslo
Turid Noack, Statistics Norway
Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik, Statistics Norway

The paper reports a study of changes in women's realization of their fertility intentions over the last three decades. Norwegians have experienced a period of dramatic changes in the family system, as well as fundamental social policy changes such as the establishment and gradual expansion of a system of parental leave entitlements and economic benefits for parents of small children. Fertility intentions are not successfully realized by all who hold them, and by comparing the degree to which such intentions are realized across time, we aim at advancing our knowledge about the total impact of changes in family dynamics and social change on fertility behavior. Do these changes in the opportunity structure of childbearing have serious implications for realization of short-term fertility intentions? Using three survey data sets (taken in 1977, 1988 and 2003) with information and fertility intentions in a powerful combination with register-based follow-ups data sets, we estimate discrete-time hazard models of fertility following the time of survey. We avoid all problems related to attrition and non-response, and can control for a set of observed covariates at the time of the survey. Preliminary analysis show that there is no marked decrease in the degree to which Norwegian women manage to realize their intentions to have a child. Several interpretations of this finding can be made. One possibility is that the selection into the state of intending is quite different in the 2000s from the 1970s, and that this change in selection offsets any negative impact of social changes that impede life course planning.

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Presented in Session 22: Fertility intentions and fertility realization