Do fertility intentions affect fertility behavior?

Robert Schoen, Nan Marie Astone, Young J. Kim, Constance A. Nathanson, Jason M. Fields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Scopus citations


We examine the relationship between fertility intentions and fertility behavior using a sample of 2,812 non-Hispanic Whites interviewed twice by the National Survey of Families and Households. Time I fertility intentions are strong and persistent predictors of fertility, even after controlling for background and life course variables. The effect is greater when the intentions are held with greater certainty. In contrast, the expected timing of births has a much more modest and short-term effect. Only marital status has an effect with a magnitude that is comparable with that of fertility intentions. Fertility intentions do not mediate the effects of other variables but do contribute additional predictive power. The substantive importance of intentions emphasizes the salience of individual motivations and argues for a redirection of fertility research toward studies of the interactions between the individual and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-799
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Fertility
  • Intentions
  • Mediate
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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