Thinking about babies: his, her, and their desire

Sela Harcey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Colleen Ray, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Julia McQuillan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Larry Gibbs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Arthur Greil, Alfred University

For the most part, having a baby is a couple level phenomenon, yet most fertility studies focus on women. Guided by the life course perspective, we use the couple-level data in the first wave of the representative U.S. National Survey of Fertility Barriers (NSFB) to explore level of agreement and how accurate women are about their male partner’s desire for a baby within couples. We review a variety of ways of summarizing couple baby desire data and argue for a two variable couple level approach that captures direction (yes, no, maybe desire a baby), self-report agreement, and women’s accuracy regarding their male partner’s desire. The analytical sample consists of 337 heterosexual couples in which the female partner has not had any children. We first categorized couples according to desire for a baby 1) partners agree yes, 2) partners agree no, 3) both say maybe (could be yes or no), 4) partners disagree (one yes and one no). We also incorporate data on women’s perception of their partner’s desire for a baby compared to his own report (i.e. accuracy). We provide descriptive information about couples in the four baby desire-agreement categories, and summarize the value of a couple level approach to thinking about having a baby.

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Presented in Session 55: Fertility preferences 3