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Evaluating responses on fertility intention and uncertainty: the case of open-ended questions

Xiao Xu, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Anne H. Gauthier, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Gert Stulp, University of Groningen
Antal van den Bosch, Meertens Institute

Fertility intentions recorded in existing surveys have been criticized for their limited predictive ability of fertility behaviors and persistently high level of uncertainty that have long been neglected. This has led researchers to question the effectiveness of fertility intentions measured with current approaches. In this study, we propose a computational linguistic analysis approach with open-ended questions in an experiment of online demographic survey with the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social sciences (LISS) panel in the Netherlands, where 464 Dutch women were asked questions on fertility intentions, followed by open-ended ones on qualifying their uncertainty about these intentions. What new insights do the responses to open-ended questions offer? How are responses influenced by ways of presenting the question, and what kind of question prompts more informative answers? And how consistent are they? By evaluating the effect of various options in presenting open-ended questions on response quality and their implication on intentions, we explore practical strategies for incorporating open-ended question into a large-scale demographic survey.

Keywords: Demographic and social surveys, Fertility and childbirth, Qualitative data/methods/approaches, Mixed methods research

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  Presented in Session 131. Fertility, Fertility Preferences and Contraception: Data and Methods