The pure relationship and below replacement fertility
transition, shifts in fertility and union formation have attracted a great deal of
interest from demographers. Despite the fact that researchers have extensively modeled recent demographic changes such as skyrocketing divorce rates, rising common-law union formation, delayed childbearing, and the decline to belowreplacement fertility levels, our understanding of the causes of these trends, and the possible connections between them remains theoretically fragmented and incomplete. The goal of this paper is to advance our understanding in this area by exploring the insights on modern family formation of prominent sociologist Anthony Giddens. Specifically, this study examines whether Giddens’ “pure relationship” concept can shed light on the trend toward very low fertility. The results of this inquiry suggest that couples in both marriages and common-law unions who conform to key aspects of Giddens pure relationship are more likely to have uncertain or below-replacement fertility intentions, and less likely to embrace above-replacement fertility goals.
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