Having Children in a Time of Lowest-Low Fertility: Value of Children, Sex Preference and Fertility Desire among Taiwanese Young Adults

Abstract

Studies on the family often assume that the normative expectations of having children are straightforward. However, in societies with sustained lowest-low fertility, each childbirth is seen as a thoroughly calculated decision. Using data from the Taiwan Youth Project (TYP), this study examines young adults’ reasons and sex preference for having children in Taiwan, where the total fertility rate is among the lowest in the world. We examine whether the values of children in Taiwan capture fertility desires and which ones do so, and how the importance of each value varies by birth parity. The findings show that young adults attach different values to the first, second, and third child. Additionally, while young adults in Taiwan do not consider economic utility as a primary value for having children, economic resources significantly shape their levels of desire to have children. Moreover, son preference has been largely replaced by the preference for a balanced sex composition. These results suggest that non-economic values, economic resources and sex preference intertwine to shape fertility desire in a context of lowest-low fertility. Implications for fertility policies within and beyond Taiwanese society are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    About 25% of the whole sample had one or more item nonresponse. Our estimation utilizes 25 imputed data sets to account for potential biased results from missing values.

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Acknowledgements

Data analyzed in this paper were collected by the research project “Taiwan Youth Project” sponsored by the Academia Sinica (AS-93-TP-C01). This research project was carried out by Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, and directed by Dr. Chin-Chun Yi. The Center for Survey Research of Academia Sinica is responsible for the data distribution. The authors appreciate the assistance in providing data by the institutes and individuals aforementioned. The views expressed herein are the authors’ own.

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Correspondence to Li-Chung Hu.

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Hu, L., Chiang, Y. Having Children in a Time of Lowest-Low Fertility: Value of Children, Sex Preference and Fertility Desire among Taiwanese Young Adults. Child Ind Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-020-09753-5

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Keywords

  • Value of children
  • Fertility desire
  • Birth parity
  • Lowest-low fertility
  • Taiwan