Assessing Short-Term Fertility Intentions and Their Realisation Using the Generations and Gender Survey: Pitfalls and Challenges

Zuzanna Brzozowska, Eva Beaujouan

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The use of fertility intention questions to study individual childbearing behaviour has developed rapidly in recent decades. In Europe, the Generations and Gender Surveys are the main sources of cross-national data on fertility intentions and their realisation. This study investigates how an inconsistent implementation of a question about wanting a child now affects the cross-country comparability of intentions to have a child within the next three years and their realisation. We conduct our analysis separately for women and men at prime and late reproductive ages in Austria, France, Italy and Poland. The results show that the overall share of respondents intending to have a child at some point in their life is similar in all four analysed countries. However, once the time horizon and the degree of certainty of fertility intentions are included, substantial cross-country differences appear, particularly in terms of proceptive behaviour and, consequently, the realisation of fertility intentions. We conclude that the inconsistent questionnaire adaptation makes it very difficult to assess the role of country context in the realisation of childbearing intentions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-416
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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