A new method for measuring preferences for number of children is presented and related to the subsequent fertility of a panel of married women over a five-year period. TheI-scales, developed on the basis of unfolding theory, reflect the individual’s utility function for children. They differ from global stated preferences and are more fine-grained measures, sensitive to variations from a first choice. Scales obtained at an initial interview were found to be consistently predictive of fertility in the prospective period, net of a number of other variables usually associated with differential fertility. Their potential both as independent and dependent variables in research is discussed.

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