CUPC/IBS Speaker Series: Sara Yeatman
October 2 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Title: The Demography of Unrealized Fertility
Biography: I am the new director of the CU Population Center and Professor of Health and Behavioral Sciences at CU Denver. I am a social demographer and interdisciplinary researcher with training in the fields of sociology, demography, and public health. My research expertise is in the areas of fertility and reproductive health, and my research focuses broadly on understanding the causes and consequences of HIV and fertility desires. I co-created and led a 9-wave panel study of over 3,000 young adults in southern Malawi between 2009 and 2015. Data from the Tsogolo la Thanzi project have been used in over 60 publications, including many theses and dissertations from students at institutions throughout the US and in Malawi. Much of my current research is focused on contraceptive access in the US, including through a vibrant collaboration made possible by CUPC. My recent research has been published in Demography, Health Affairs, and Demographic Research.
Abstract: Women and men across the globe are at high risk of underachieving their fertility goals. This means that they are aging out of their reproductive years having had fewer children than they desired to have, a phenomenon referred to as unrealized fertility. Although often considered a problem concentrated in low-fertility settings, recent research has revealed high levels of unrealized fertility in higher fertility settings—as many as 40% of women at the end of their reproductive careers in sub-Saharan Africa wish they had more children. This paradox—that people across vastly different fertility contexts are not having the children they desire—highlights an urgent need to understand the forces driving these patterns, as well as their consequences. Unfortunately, data on unrealized fertility are generally poor and inconsistently collected, and there is a need for demographers to fill this space. In this presentation, I will review the key conceptual and operational challenges in studying unrealized fertility across the globe, present findings from the data that currently exist, and outline a research agenda to better understand this phenomenon.