Her, His and Their Children: Childbearing Intentions and Births in Stepfamilies

Elizabeth Thomson

Jui-Chung Allen Li


Analyses of stepfamily fertility have not adequately accounted for the separate and shared parities of each partner. We develop a parity specification that takes into account the fact that stepfamily couples make higher-order parity progressions when having a first or second shared child than do couples without stepchildren. We find no differences in birth intentions or the birth risk among couples with one child, whether the child is shared, the man's or the woman's. Among couples with a combined parity of two or more, however, we find stronger intentions and higher birth risks among those who have no shared children, particularly when the woman is not a biological parent. We also find stronger intentions and birth risks when couples have only one shared child compared to couples with two or more shared children, among those with two or more children in combination. These results are consistent with unique values of first and second shared births to couples and they demonstrate the importance of parity specification for understanding the increasing stepfamily component of births in low-fertility societies.