The Complexity of Measuring Fertility Preferences: Evidence from DHS Data

Amanda M. Kalamar, Johns Hopkins University
Michelle J. Hindin, Johns Hopkins University

Fertility preferences and intentions as concepts and measured constructs have no single definition within the literature; debates around the measurement and merits of preferences, intentions, and desires are prevalent. Using data from the most recent DHS for 31 countries, the level of mismatch between multiple measured dimensions of fertility preferences is assessed. Varying degrees of mismatch are found across every included country; as many as 1 in 5 women provide answers to the set of fertility preferences questions contained with the DHS that highlight the need for further exploration into the meaning behind the mismatch to tell a more complete story about fertility preferences. This challenges researchers to think through and be mindful of the implications of the various measurements of the multiple dimensions of fertility preferences and urges them to investigate what mismatches within their data like those found in this analysis may mean.

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Presented in Session 164: Fertility Intentions: Measurement and Meaning