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Discussion Paper no. 05-16

Abstract

Previous studies in the value-of-children tradition of fertility research have examined the effect on demand for children of subjective perceptions of a particular value, or category of values, of children to parents. In their explanation of demand for children, they do not consider the possibility of the relevance of multiple or diverse single-handed values of children to parents. By investigating the impact of a non-specific measure of the values of children to parents—the value attributed to children—on demand for children, this study implicitly takes into account all of the values of children to parents that may be implicated in demand for children. The fundamental hypothesis of this study is that the value attributed to children by individuals is one of the foremost determinants of their demand for children. The value attributed to children by individuals is thought to positively affect their demand for children. Based on a sample of respondents to the 2001 Canadian General Social Survey who are heterosexual, aged 20-49 years, fecund, married to or cohabiting with a fecund spouse/partner, and childless, this study finds support for the fundamental hypothesis of this study. Those who attribute value to children have demand for an average of about one more child than those who do not attribute value to children when their demographic, economic, and cultural characteristics are taken into account. Qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with a sample of respondents to the local survey of Reproduction and Caring over the Life Course who are heterosexual, aged 20-49 years, married, cohabiting or in a conjugal relationship, and childless are analyzed to discern the values of children to parents that give rise to the value attributed to children by individuals and, in that way, contribute to their demand for children. The main finding is of the relevance of multiple or diverse single-handed values of children in the value attributed to children by individuals.


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