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Persistence and Change in Decisions to Remain Childless

Tim B. Heaton, Cardell K. Jacobson and Kimberlee Holland
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 61, No. 2 (May, 1999), pp. 531-539
DOI: 10.2307/353767
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353767
Page Count: 9
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Persistence and Change in Decisions to Remain Childless
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Abstract

Numerous researchers have examined the incidence, correlates, and predictors of childlessness. Few, however, have examined changes in intended childlessness because the longitudinal data required to track these changes are rare. We utilize the National Survey of Families and Households to examine trends in intentions to remain childless. We include both demographic and ideational variables in the analysis, and we focus on respondents between the ages of 19 and 39 years who had not had children at the beginning of the study. The largest group wants children but still postpone childbearing. The next largest group carries out their intention to have children. The third largest group switches from wanting children to not wanting children. Some are consistently childless in both surveys. Finally, a relatively small group did not intend to have a child in the first survey but subsequently had a child. Marital status is the most salient predictor for having children, but cohabitors also are more likely to have children than are single noncohabitors.

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