When the First Baby Arrives and the Second Loses Chance. Couples’ Adjustment to Parenthood and Fertility Expectations after the First Child

Francesca Luppi, Collegio Carlo Alberto
Letizia Mencarini, Università degli Studi di Torino and Collegio Carlo Alberto

Our work explores under which conditions individuals’ fertility expectations are modified by the experience of parenting after the first child. We show that the expectations about having the second child are not stable after becoming a parent: the more difficult (and unforeseen) the adjustment to parenthood is, the stronger the decline of partners’ expectation towards having a second child. Women – overburdened by gender imbalanced childrearing responsibilities – reduce their fertility expectations mainly because of the difficulties in reconciling work and family (and the consequent increasing conflict and dissatisfaction with the partner). Men first increased dissatisfaction with the partner relationship and only then decreased expectation about having another child. The analysis is conducted on nine waves (starting from 2001) of the HILDA Australian Panel Survey, applying piecewise multilevel growth models to test how fertility expectations depend on unexpected parenting difficulties after childbirth and on family satisfaction and work adjustment.

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Presented in Session 61: Changing Fertility Intentions