05/11/2010 10:23 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

For Whom It Just Happens

Why do people have children?

The new Pew report is a good summary of trends in the demography of mothers, as well as attitudes related to birth decisions.

Which makes it excellent fodder for the shenanigans of talking-head hooligans (h/t Jay Livingston). You know you're heading into junk-demography land when a column starts with the phrase, "Fifty years ago, American family structures..."

Anyway, one of the interesting things in the report was a question on why parents decided to have children.

I'm interested in those people who say "it just happened." Fortunately, the report breaks them down (including those who said it was a "somewhat important" as well as those who said "very important."

We don't how much of this is a normative expression of appropriate reasons for parenting - social desirability bias - and how much reflects what "really" happened. Either way, though, there is an inequality gradient in perception, or expression, of self-efficacy in family structure (something others have explored in depth).

Cross posted from the Family Inequality blog.