Do Ideologies Really Affect Fertility Intentions and Behavior? A Cohort Perspective (1979-2004)

Jennifer Buher-Kane, Pennsylvania State University

Current discourse on low fertility regimes examines several explanations. One particular theory posits that ideational shifts have exerted a downward pressure on fertility rates. Using the NLSY79, this paper explores the influences of several ideational values (traditionalism, religiosity, job satisfaction, and hours worked) on the fertility intentions and behavior of a single cohort over time (1979-2004). Findings lend support to this hypothesis in several ways. While traditionalism and religiosity exert upward pressure on fertility behavior (which is especially strong in adolescence and early adulthood), job satisfaction and hours worked exhibit the inverse (which is strongest in mid-life). All but religiosity persist in their influence on fertility throughout the reproductive years, which emphasizes their continued importance over time. In addition, ideologies exert an independent influence on fertility behavior throughout the life course. That is, fertility intentions do not fully mediate the relationship between ideologies and fertility behavior.

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Presented in Poster Session 5