Partners' Disagreement Inhibits Childbearing: A Couple Level Analysis of Australia

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

Demographers have studied pregnancy intentions and subsequent births focusing on women or combining women’s reports with their subjective perception of partners’ intentions. Reproductive decisions are dyadic and as such require a couple level investigation. Drawing on data from the survey “Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia” (HILDA), we investigate the intention-outcome fertility link in a genuine couple approach. The aim is to find out whether one of the partner drives the decision process if conflict raises and whether the ultimate effect of disagreement is in favour or against a childbirth. Results show that partners’ divergent views about having a first or an additional child have a detrimental effect on a childbirth but the extent of such an effect is gender and parity specific. Women have a prevalent voice in the resolution of disagreement if they plan to have a child. Couple disagreement is located somewhere between agreement on yes and agreement on not among childless couples while it is shifted more towards agreement on not among couples who have already children consistently with a double veto model. Women’s stronger negotiation power in reproductive decision-making is not driven by their bigger contribution to the household income nor by their higher satisfaction about the gender division of childcare tasks.

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 Presented in Session 124. Fertility Intentions