Absent and Problematic Men: Demographic Accounts of Male Reproductive Roles



Both men and women are important actors in bringing children into life, yet demographic studies on reproduction have tended to focus on women alone. The aims of this article are: 1) to describe why men have attracted limited interest as subjects of such research; 2) to evaluate existing research on men's roles in developing countries; and 3) to suggest directions for future research on male reproductive roles. Men, once neglected, are now included in research on fertility but from a narrow, overly problem-oriented perspective. A review of the literature, however, raises questions about the adequacy of a problem oriented approach. The authors argue that demography should focus on men not only as women's partners, but also as individuals with distinct reproductive histories. In situations, now increasingly common, where the links between marriage and childbearing erode, the differences in men's and women's reproductive experiences and the costs and benefits of parenting will become more salient for future research.