Support Environments for Families and Fertility Intentions

Kristen Harknett, University of Pennsylvania
Carla Medalia, University of Pennsylvania

We examine how supports for child rearing are related to mothers’ intentions to have a second or higher order child in a set of European societies that is heterogeneous in terms of supports and fertility levels. Our paper tests the general hypothesis that greater support for child rearing from partners, extended families, and governmental and labor market sources is positively associated with fertility intentions. Using data from the second wave of the European Social Survey, collected in 2004-05, we examine how support for parenting at the country-, regional-, and individual levels is associated with the intention to progress to higher parities using a series of multilevel statistical models. We find evidence that macro-level environments that are relatively more supportive of mothers are associated with positive fertility intentions. Among the domains we analyze, institutional supports seem to be particularly strong correlates of fertility intentions.

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Presented in Session 1: Low Fertility in Comparative Perspective