Reports of Fertility Preferences: Assessing the Effects of Priming with Social Contexts

Emily Marshall, University of Michigan
Hana Shepherd, Princeton University

Empirical studies of fertility preferences have shown that the relationship between preferences and fertility behavior is far from straightforward at the individual level, although preferences are often stable predictors of fertility at the population level. One possible explanation lies in the influence of situational factors on individuals’ evaluations of their own preferences. This study explores this mechanism by examining how variation in reported fertility preferences results from different social context primes. Using an experimental survey design, we determine whether reports of fertility preferences differ when respondents are prompted to think of different social contexts or roles before reporting their fertility preferences. In addition to the goal of improving the measurement of fertility preferences, this research contributes to a larger research agenda to test theories of culture and cognition as a means to better understand basic demographic behaviors.

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Presented in Session 138: Mixed Methods Research