Spousal Emotional Nucleation and Fertility Limitation

Cynthia F Macht, University of Michigan

This study investigates the consequences of spousal emotional nucleation for couples' fertility behavior. Existing theories relating the shift toward couple-centered marital relationships to fertility limitation are integrated. I expand the fertility literature's common focus on communication to include other dimensions of spousal emotional nucleation, a complex concept often posited in the fertility literature but not often measured. I use unique nine year long monthly panel data from the Chitwan Valley Family Study to construct detailed event-history models of these relationships. Empirical analyses demonstrate that several dimensions of spouses' decreased attachment to parents and increased conjugal bond have direct fertility limitation effects. Spousal communication about family planning retains strong effects even when considered within the broader framework of emotional nucleation, demonstrating its important independent role in the transition to use of contraception. These results should motivate greater research attention to the influence of husbands and marital relationship dynamics on fertility behavior.

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Presented in Session 14: Gender Dynamics and Reproduction