A model of fertility motivation, desires, and expectations early in women's reproductive careers.
We propose a general model of the relationships connecting fertility motivations, desires, and expectations in which motivations are antecedent to desires, which in turn are antecedent to expectations. We describe differences in the model as it applies to women early in their reproductive careers, specifically, after marriage but before their 1st birth and after their 1st birth but before their 2nd. We test the model with data from 311 just-married and 318 just-mothered US women enrolled in a prospective psychology of reproduction study, using LISREL (analysis of linear structural relationships by the method of maximum likelihood) software to estimate structural equations for both groups. The general model fits the data well. There are 3 primary differences in the model with respect to the 2 groups of married women. How soon a woman expects her next child affects how many children she expects only among the just-married woman. The number of children expected by the woman is the only antecedent to how soon she expects her next child among the just-mothered women. Both positive and negative maternal motivation has effects among the just-married women, but only negative maternal motivation has effects among the just-mothered women. These and other differences are discussed in terms of psychological and situational developments occurring early in women's reproductive careers. (author's modified)