So Long as the Baby is Healthy: The Effect of Disability in Children on Mothers’ Subsequent Childbearing

Maryhelen D'Ottavi, Brown University

This study explores the effects of children's disability on their mothers' subsequent fertility decisions. Caring for a child with a disability may influence mothers’ later decisions about childbearing. Raising a child with a disability can be taxing. Mothers of children with a disability may decide to forgo subsequent childbearing so as to dedicate their familial resources to meeting the needs of their child with a disability. However, childbearing is largely motivated by social-psychological forces. The desire for typical parent-child interactions may increase the desire for further children. Using quantitative and qualitative data, I explore these opposing hypotheses. Matched data from the 1993 National Health Interview Survey and 1995 National Survey of Family Growth serve as the basis for discrete-time analyses of subsequent childbearing, while in-depth interviews of parents of children with disabilities provide insight and nuance into the life circumstances in which childbearing decisions are made.

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Presented in Session 75: Children’s Impacts on Parents’ Lives