The Influence of Wives’ and Husbands’ Fertility Preferences on Progression to Higher Parity Pregnancies in Nepal

Elyse Jennings, University of Michigan

As couples across the globe increasingly exercise conscious control over their reproduction, there is a growing need to examine the influence of both husbands’ and wives’ preferences on fertility outcomes. Our study focuses on couples in rural Nepal, investigating which spouse’s preference prevails in decisions about moving beyond the two-child norm. Using couple-level measures of spouses’ relative family size preferences—followed by more than a decade of panel data on fertility outcomes—we investigate couples’ odds of progression to third and fourth parity births. This longitudinal design advances research on couples’ decision-making regarding fertility beyond commonly-used cross-sectional investigations, and extends analysis to a setting where total fertility rates have fallen dramatically in recent decades. Contrary to expectations based on women’s relative disadvantage, we find that wives’ preferences tend to drive couples’ progression beyond two children, even when spouses’ family size preferences are discrepant.

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Presented in Session 112: Men's and Women's Perspectives on Sex, Prevention and Reproduction