Differing patterns of birth intention realization: looking into the postponement "black-box"

Zsolt Spéder, Demografic Research Institute Budapest
Balázs Kapitány, Demographic Research Institute

The aim of our investigation is to analyze how fertility intentions will be fulfilled in the context of four European countries. We use two waves of follow-up studies conducted in the last decade in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary and Bulgaria. Time-dependent intentions are measured at the first wave, realization of intentions (childbirth) subsequently, happening until the second wave. Research results reveal clear differences of realization in the four countries. The rate of realization is high in the Netherlands (75%) and very low in the two former communist countries (around 40 percent). The ratio of realization surpasses slightly the 50 percent level In Switzerland. Compositional effects and assumed social mechanisms are supposed to be accountable for the differing patterns. The results of the empirical analysis enable us to approach one of the key concepts of recent demographic change. It provides us with the introspection to the “black-box” of postponement, which has not been revealed until now. We will contribute to the understanding of the behavioral interpretation of postponement. More general: we will discuss a specific relation between individual action and social context.

Presented in Session 73: Reproductive decision-making in a macro-micro perspective (REPRO)