Fertility From a Couple Perspective: A Test of Competing Decision Rules on Proceptive Behaviour
Fertility decisions typically involve two persons. This raises the question of how individual desires or preferences for further children transform into joint action. Previous research has proposed different approaches to this question, emphasizing gender, joint utility, consensus, or bargaining power. We use data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) to test competing hypotheses found in the literature. Our results show symmetrical effects of both partners’ desires and expected utilities for children on proceptive behaviour, indicating that neither women nor men dominate fertility decisions per se. Instead, it is joint utility that matters. One partner will exercise a ‘veto’ only if the expected loss of utility from a further child is very high. When partners have opposed desires, bargaining power due to advantageous partner market conditions can play a pivotal role for imposing one's will on the partner.