The quality of the partner relationship and fertility

Arieke J Rijken, Utrecht University
Trudie Knijn, Utrecht University
Aart C. Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Partnership, marriage and reproduction are not inextricably bound up with each other anymore. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the explanation of fertility behaviour by focusing on the influence of the quality of the partner relationship. Besides the demographic dimensions of the relationship, such as relationship duration and relationship status (cohabitation, marriage), we include interactive dimension such as separation tendency, emotional support, communication styles and agreement on important issues. Previous research provides contradictory hypotheses, assuming either a positive or a negative influence of partner relationship quality on a couple’s fertility behaviour. An additional question is whether the quality of the relationship influences fertility behaviour by influencing fertility preferences or by influencing the realization of these preferences. We answer our questions by conducting hazard analyses on data from the Panel Study of Social Integration in the Netherlands, which includes 5 waves and spans 13 years.

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Presented in Session 36: Fertility, partnerships and intergenerational relations