Childbearing Intentions: Beyond 'Yes' and 'No' Answers

Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper provides a critical examination of the validity of survey indicators measuring birth intentions. The empirical ground for the study is a suitable combination of survey data and in-depth interviews with Italian women of parity ranging from 0 to 4 and aged 30-39. We triangulate data on birth intentions collected in the year 2000 for the Indagine Sociale Lombarda with birth intentions expressed a few months later by the same women during the qualitative phase of the study. We are able to check whether birth intentions are realised three years later thank to a focused follow-up questionnaire on fertility intentions and behaviour. This rich and integrated data-set enable us to compare the two sources of information on intentions and to relate them to subsequent behavior, to formulate hypotheses about their divergences, and to propose a multi- dimensional indicator for childbearing intentions

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Presented in Session 130: Methodological Issues in Fertility Research