I’ve Changed My Mind. Intentions to be Childless, Their Stability and Their Realization in the Short-Run.

Elisa Brini, University of Trento

Despite the increase in the segment of population staying childless, the mechanisms accompanying this choice remain unclear and mainly untested. This paper contributes to the understanding of which factors lead to living a life without children, by focusing on negative fertility intentions of men and women and on their later fertility realization. Following the framework of the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) a tight link between intentions and behaviour is assumed also in the case of negative fertility and examined by two main research questions: to what extent short-term intentions to remain childless are stable in the life of individuals? To what extent these intentions are later realized? In order to track the link between intentions to be childless and fertility outcome, analyses are achieved using the first wave of the Gender and Generation Survey and its follow-up survey. The I Wave allows distinguishing between childless men and women who desire children and those who do not want to have children in the following three years. The II Wave allows knowing how these intentions have changed or whether they have been realized in the short-run. The contribution to the literature is twofold. Fist, we contribute to the knowledge about the most important determinants that inhibit or enable the realization of negative fertility intentions by showing how both socio-demographic and psychological factors play a significant role in the realization of planned childlessness. Secondly, we discuss the predictive power of fertility intentions in the short run and show how negative fertility intentions are to some extent more reliable than positive fertility intentions.

Presented in Poster Session 2