This study examines wife–husband preference for children and subsequent fertility for a period of 5 years in the treatment and comparison areas of Matlab, Bangladesh. The two data sets used were: the In-depth Survey (1984) and the Demographic Surveillance System (1984–89). In the case of wives' preferences for children, subsequent childbearing was 13·8% higher than desired in the treatment area and 44·7% higher than desired in the comparison area. After controlling for all variables in the model, the likelihood of giving birth was 1·78 times higher for wives who wanted no more children, but whose husbands did want more, compared with couples where neither husband nor wife wanted more children. For couples where the wife wanted more, but the husband did not want more children, the likelihood of giving birth was 0·63 times that of couples where both the husband and wife wanted more children. This finding suggests that to enhance the decline in fertility in these two areas of Matlab, it will be necessary to motivate both wives and husbands to cease childbearing.
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