This article describes a measure that can be evaluated for a particular individual person, household, or family. It is not a statistical aggregate, though it may be statistically aggregated to provide average measures and distributions.
The measure may vary with time, i.e., its value may be different at different points in time.
The measure is subjective, as the measurement of its value is based on people's beliefs, opinions, and/or values.
The desired fertility or ideal fertility of a female at a given point in time is the total completed fertility she would like to have. Note that this differs conceptually (and may or may not differ in actual value) from expected fertility, because the latter refers to the total completed fertility she expects to have, given her realistic assessment of constraints.
Relation between desired fertility and parity
With most definitions of desired fertility, desired fertility must be at least equal to the parity of the female, i.e., the number of children the female has already had.
Variation with time
Whereas completed fertility is a constant for a particular woman (that is determined after she can no longer bear children), desired fertility may change with time as the woman's goals, beliefs, and fertility history.
- Desired Fertility and the Impact of Population Policies by Lant Pritchett, Population and Development Review, Volume 20,Number 1, Page 1 - 55(March 1994): Ungated PDFMore info
- Family Sizes in Europe: Evidence from the 2011 Eurobarometer Survey by Maria Rita Testa, : Ungated PDFMore info
- Intended and Ideal Family Sizes in the United States, 1970-2002 by Kellie J. Hagewen and S. Philip Morgan, Population and Development Review, Volume 31,Number 3, Page 507 - 527(September 2005): Full text on NIH websiteMore info
- Evidence bearing on the construct validity of "ideal family size" by Roger B. Trent, Population and Environment, Volume 3, (Fall/Winter 1980): JSTOR PDFMore info
- Attitudes towards ideal family size of different ethnic/nationality groups in Great Britain, France, and Germany by Roger Penn and Paul Lambert, Population Trends, Volume 108, (Summer 2002): ungated PDFMore info
- The emergence of sub-replacement family size ideals in Europe by Joshua Goldstein, Wolfgang Lutz and Maria Rita Testa, Population Research and Policy Review, Volume 22, Page 479 - 496(Year 2003): Gated PDFMore info