Abstract

This article reports on a study of the effect of stepchildren (children from previous unions) on coupleś fertility intentions and childbearing behavior using longitudinal data from the National Survey of Families and Households. The results indicated that stepchildren negatively affect childbearing intentions and childbearing risks. Intentions to have a child are weakened by onés own previous biological children and the previous biological children of onés current spouse or partner. This effect varies by the parenting configuration of the couple and gender of the respondent. Among couples with stepchildren, intentions remain high until each partner has had a biological child. Unlike women, men’s previous biological children do not affect their intentions of having a child. Stepchildren exert a weak negative effect on coupleś childbearing risks, and this effect is mediated by the coupleś childbearing intentions. The findings suggest that stepchildren should be incorporated into future models of fertility.

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