What Can We Learn From Variation in Fertility Preferences? Effects of Social Context on Elite College Women in the United States and Turkey

Emily Marshall , Franklin & Marshall College
Hana Shepherd, Rutgers University

This study analyzes variation in reported fertility preferences to investigate how social influences may affect demographic behavior. We use an experimental survey design to compare how fertility preferences of women enrolled in elite universities in the United States and Turkey are affected by prompts designed to bring to mind their own financial limitations. We compare results by country to investigate how priming effects interact with broader cultural context. Priming with financial limitations has no significant effect on desired fertility in the U.S. sample, but significantly increases desired fertility in the sample of Turkish women. We discuss possible explanations for this surprising finding, and present a supplementary study (results forthcoming) designed to shed light on the meaning of this finding. Our study demonstrates how reports of fertility preferences are influenced by immediate contexts, and how this process can vary across national contexts.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1