A Couple-Perspective on Fertility Outcomes: Do Relative Resources Matter for First and Second Births?

Natalie Nitsche, Yale University

McDonald (2000) has suggested that socio-economic gender equity within couples is a crucial component in women’s fertility decisions. Empirically, however, little is known about how couple dynamics are influencing fertility outcomes. This paper examines if gender equity, measured as relative levels of income, education, and labor market supply, affects the transition to first and second births in the US. While studies have investigated the effect of the gendered division of household labor on birth transitions, I argue that it is problematic as an indicator of intra-couple gender equity because research has shown that the division of household labor is itself an outcome of relative resources in couples. Using the NLSY79, this paper will use Cox regression models to understand how relative resources, absolute resources, and their interaction affect the timing and likelihood of first and second births in first unions using a competing risk design to account for the competing event of union dissolution.

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Presented in Session 66: Partners and Childbearing