From Intention to Behavior: Having a Child and Transitions in Multiple Life Domains

Danilo Bolano, University of Lausanne
Maria Rita Testa, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

In Australia and other advanced societies people tend to have fewer children than they tell researchers they would like to have (e.g. fertility gap). In this paper, we investigate the discrepancy between intended and actual fertility in the unified framework of an individual’s life course using the “Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia” Survey (waves 2005, 2008 and 2011). The long-run longitudinal data allow us to examine the interdependencies between intentions and outcomes in different life course domains including reproduction, education, partnership, work, and residence. Results show that adult individuals do often have a multidimensional planning and that the chance of having an intended child decreases with the complexity of it and depending on which of the alternative plans are previously realized. Plans of start living together or changing dwelling increase the likelihood of having an intended child if realized. Plans of changing jobs or resuming studies decreases the chance of having an intended child if realized but only among women. Such results suggest the persistence of a work-family conflict that could be at the heart of the Australian fertility gap and lowest-low fertility levels and outline the need for the adoption of a holistic approach in decision making analysis.

Presented in Session 1164: Fertility