Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 36:8 (2019), pp 2307–2322.

DOI: 10.1177/0265407518787232


Copyright © 2018 Karina M. Shreffler, Stacy Tiemeyer, Julia McQuillan, Arthur L. Greil, and Tiffany Spierling. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


In heterosexual couples, both partners’ intentions to have a baby (or not) are associated with the likelihood of a subsequent birth, yet most studies only measure women’s intentions. Therefore, little is known about the potential association of couple agreement or disagreement on intentions or on such values as importance of parenthood, career, and leisure and the implications for childbearing. The goal of this article is to assess whether couple-level agreement or disagreement in fertility intentions and values are associated with the likelihood of a subsequent birth. Guided by the Theory of Conjunctural Action, we use couple data from two waves of the U.S. National Survey of Fertility Barriers for our analysis. Based on logistic regression analysis, we find that if either partner intends a child, the odds of having a baby within 3 years are higher than if neither partner intends and that the odds are substantially higher when both partners intend a child. Couples in whom both partners and couples in whom only the woman has a high value on career success are less likely to have a baby. Our findings suggest that agreement on fertility intentions is associated with considerably higher birth probability and that values about life domains matter as well. Couple disagreement on intentions and values are related in different ways to birth outcomes depending on which partner holds which value as important. Using data from both partners allows us to examine the patterns of couple agreement, values, and gendered influences related to birth outcomes.