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Morgan, S. Philip & Bachrach, Christine A. (2011). Is the Theory of Planned Behaviour an Appropriate Model for Human Fertility?. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 9, 11-18.


The Theory of Reasoned Action (or Theory of Planned Behaviour, TPB), developed primarily by Fishbein and Ajzen, has been useful in hundreds of studies and for more than three decades. A quick examination of Google Scholar data on the author Ajzen1 (Harzing 2010) shows over 65,000 citations; three TPBrelated papers have over 10,000 citations and five more have over 1,000 citations each! The impact and usefulness of this general approach is unquestioned. The popularity of the approach does not appear to be fading. Fishbein and Ajzen’s recent book (2010) provides the most recent statement of the theory, documents its use in multiple contexts and responds to some critiques. Ajzen, a keynote speaker at the recent VID conference (From intentions to behaviour: reproductive decision-making in a macro-micro perspective), made the case for the general TPB approach, but he challenged demographers to alter it in ways that make it appropriate for fertility research. A number of fertility-related papers and research projects have adopted aspects of this approach and the VID conference adopted the TPB as a cornerstone of discussion. Thus, we ask the fundamental question: Is the theory of planned behaviour an appropriate model for human fertility? Before answering it, we first describe briefly the TPB, review some troubling evidence vis-à-vis TPB and fertility and then raise more general issues that we have attempted to resolve in our own work (Johnson-Hanks et al. 2011).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Vienna Yearbook of Population Research


Morgan, S. Philip
Bachrach, Christine A.