A growing body of research has argued that the traditional categories of stopping and spacing are insufficient to understand why individuals want to control fertility. In a series of articles, Timæus, Moultrie, and colleagues defined a third type of fertility motivation—postponement—that reflects a desire to avoid childbearing in the short term without clear goals for long-term fertility. Although postponement is fundamentally a description of fertility desires, existing quantitative research has primarily studied fertility behavior in an effort to find evidence for the model. In this study, we use longitudinal survey data to consider whether postponement can be identified in standard measures of fertility desires among reproductive-age women in rural Mozambique. Findings show strong evidence for a postponement mindset in this population, but postponement coexists with stopping and spacing goals. We reflect on the difference between birth spacing and postponement and consider whether and how postponement is a distinctive sub-Saharan phenomenon.

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