The Impact of Perceived Costs and Rewards of Childbearing on Entry into Parenthood: Evidence from a Panel Study

  • Aart C. LiefbroerEmail author


The impact of perceived costs and rewards of having a child on the actual timing of entry into parenthood is examined among women and men. To this end, data are used from a five-wave panel survey among Dutch young adults spanning 13 years. Expected costs and rewards are found to influence the timing of parenthood among both women and men. Anticipated costs to one’s career and to one’s level of individual autonomy and an anticipated increase in one’s sense of security affect the timing of entry into motherhood. Anticipated costs to one’s career and spending power, and anticipated rewards in terms of one’s sense of security and quality of the partner relationship affect the timing of entry into fatherhood.

Key words

fertility value of children panel data 


Cet article s’intéresse à l’influence des coûts et des bénéfices attendus de la naissance d’un enfant sur la décision de créer une famille chez les hommes et chez les femmes. Pour ce faire, on s’appuie sur les résultats d’une enquête suivie à 5 passages menée auprès de jeunes adultes néerlandais sur une période de 13 ans. Les coûts et bénéfices attendus influencent le calendrier de la création de la famille aussi bien chez les hommes que chez les femmes. L’influence négative prévue sur la carrière et sur le niveau d’autonomie individuelle et l’augmentation attendue du sentiment de sécurité pèsent sur la décision de maternité chez les femmes. Chez les hommes, la crainte d’un effet négatif sur leur carrière et leur pouvoir d’achat et l’espoir d’un accroissement du sentiment de sécurité et d’une amélioration de la qualité de la relation de couple pèsent sur la décision de paternité.

Mots clés

Fécondité valeur des enfants données de panel 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, U., Beck-Gernsheim, E. 2002Individualization, Institutionalized Individualism and its Social and Political ConsequencesSageLondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Becker, G. S. 1981A Treatise on the FamilyHarvard University PressCambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  3. Beckman, L. J. 1979Fertility preferences and social exchange theoryJournal of Applied Social Psychology9147169Google Scholar
  4. Beckman, L. J., Aizenberg, R., Forsythe, A. B., Day, T. 1983A theoretical analysis of antecedents of young couples’ fertility decisions and outcomesDemography20519533Google Scholar
  5. Brien, M. J., Lillard, L. A., Waite, L. J. 1999Interrelated family-building behaviors: Cohabitation, marriage, and nonmarital conceptionDemography36535551Google Scholar
  6. Buchmann, M. 1989The Script of Life in Modern Society: Entry into Adulthood in a Changing WorldUniversity of Chicago PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  7. Bulatao, R. A. 1981Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisionsDemography18125Google Scholar
  8. Callan, V. J. 1985Comparisons of mothers of one child by choice with mothers wanting a second birthJournal of Marriage and the Family47155164Google Scholar
  9. Callan, V. J. 1986The impact of the first birth: Married and single women preferring childlessness, one child, or two childrenJournal of Marriage and the Family48261269Google Scholar
  10. Centers, R., Blumberg, G. H. 1954Social and psychological factors in human procreation: A survey approachThe Journal of Social Psychology40245257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Bruijn, B. J. 1999 Foundations of Demographic Theory. Choice, Process, ContextThesis PublishersAmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  12. Den Bandt, M. L. 1980Voluntary childlessness in the NetherlandsAlternative Lifestyles3329349Google Scholar
  13. Easterlin, R. A. 1980Birth and Fortune. The Impact of Numbers on Personal WelfareBasic BooksNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Fawcett, J. T. 1978The value and cost of the first childMiller, W. B.Newman, L. F. eds. The First Child and Family FormationCarolina Population CenterChapel Hill244265Google Scholar
  15. Fawcett, J. T. 1988The value of children and the transition to parenthoodMarriage and Family Review121134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fishbein, M., Ajzen, I. 1975Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and ResearchAddison-WesleyReading, MAGoogle Scholar
  17. Fried, E. S., Udry, J. R. 1979Wives’ and husbands’ expected costs and benefits of childbearing as predictors of pregnancySocial Biology26265274Google Scholar
  18. Friedman, D., Hechter, M., Kanazawa, S. 1994A theory of the value of childrenDemography31375401Google Scholar
  19. Gauthier, A. H., Hatzius, J. 1997Family benefits and fertility: An econometric analysisPopulation Studies51295306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giddens, A. 1992The Transformation of Intimacy. Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern SocietiesPolity PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoffman, L. W., Hoffman, M. L. 1973The value of children to parentsFawcett, J. T. eds. Psychological Perspectives on PopulationBasic BooksNew York1976Google Scholar
  22. Hoffman, L. W., Manis, J. D. 1979The value of children in the United States: A new approach to the study of fertilityJournal of Marriage and the Family41583596Google Scholar
  23. Jacobs, M. J. G. 1995The wish to become a father. How do men decide in favour of parenthood?van Dongen, M.␣C. P.Frinking, G. A. B.Jacobs, M. J. G. eds. Changing Fatherhood. An Interdisciplinary PerspectiveThesis PublishersAmsterdam6784Google Scholar
  24. Kluwer, E. S., Heesink, J.A.M., van de Vliert, E. 2002The division of labor across the transition to parenthood: A justice perspectiveJournal of Marriage and Family64930943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lesthaeghe, R. 1995The second demographic transition in Western countries: An interpretationMason, K.␣O.Jensen, A. M. eds. Gender and Family Change in Industrialized CountriesClarendonOxford1762Google Scholar
  26. Lesthaeghe, R. 1998On theory development: applications to the study of family formationPopulation and Development Review24114Google Scholar
  27. Lesthaeghe, R., Surkyn, J. 1988Cultural dynamics and economic theories of fertility changePopulation and Development Review14145Google Scholar
  28. Liefbroer, A. C., Corijn, M. 1999Who, what, where, and when? Specifying the impact of educational attainment and labour force participation on family formationEuropean Journal of Population154575Google Scholar
  29. Liefbroer, A. C. and Kalmijn, M., 1997. Panel Study of Social Integration in the Netherlands 1987–1995 (PSIN8795). Codebook. Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology, Utrecht UniversityGoogle Scholar
  30. Lillard, L. A., Panis, C. W. A. 2000aML Multilevel Multiprocess Statistical Software, Release 1.0EconWareLos Angeles, CalGoogle Scholar
  31. McClintock, C. G. 1972Social motivation – A set of propositionsBehavioral Science17438454Google Scholar
  32. Miller, W. B. 1992Personality traits and developmental experiences as antecedents of childbearing motivationDemography29265285Google Scholar
  33. Miller, W. B. 1995Childbearing motivation and its measurementJournal of Biosocial Science27473487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miller, W. B., Pasta, D. J. 1988A model of fertility motivation, desires, and expectations early in women’s reproductive careersSocial Biology35236250Google Scholar
  35. Miller, W. B., Pasta, D. J. 1993Motivational and nonmotivational determinants of child-number desiresPopulation and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies15113138Google Scholar
  36. Miller, W. B., Pasta, D. J. 1994The psychology of child timing: a measurement instrument and a modelJournal of Applied Social Psychology24218250Google Scholar
  37. Oppenheimer, V. K., Kalmijn, M., Lim, N. 1997Men’s career development and marriage timing during a period of rising inequalityDemography34311330Google Scholar
  38. Seccombe, K. 1991Assessing the costs and benefits of children: gender comparisons among childfree husbands and wivesJournal of Marriage and the Family53191202Google Scholar
  39. Thomson, E. 1983Individual and couple utility of childrenDemography20507518Google Scholar
  40. Thomson, E. 1997Couple childbearing desires, intentions, and birthsDemography34343354Google Scholar
  41. Thomson, E., Hoem, J. 1998Couple childbearing plans and births in SwedenDemography35315322Google Scholar
  42. Thomson, E., McDonald, E., Bumpass, L. L. 1990Fertility desires and fertility: Hers, his, and theirsDemography27579588Google Scholar
  43. Van de Kaa, D. J. 1987Europe’s second demographic transitionPopulation Bulletin42157Google Scholar
  44. Van de Kaa, D. J. 1993The second demographic transition revisited: Theories and expectationsBeets, G.␣C. N. eds. Population and Family in the Low Countries 1993: Late Fertility and Other Current IssuesSwets & ZeitlingerLisse81126Google Scholar
  45. Kaa, D. J. 1996Anchored narratives: the story and findings of half a century of research into the determinants of fertilityPopulation Studies50389432Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic InstituteVrije Universiteit AmsterdamThe HagueThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations