Division of Social Sciences, Alfred University, 1 Saxon Dr., Alfred, NY 14802.
Does the Reason Matter? Variations in Childlessness Concerns Among U.S. Women
Article first published online: 24 SEP 2012
Copyright © National Council on Family Relations, 2012
Journal of Marriage and Family
Volume 74, Issue 5, pages 1166–1181, October 2012
How to Cite
McQuillan, J., Greil, A. L., Shreffler, K. M., Wonch-Hill, P. A., Gentzler, K. C. and Hathcoat, J. D. (2012), Does the Reason Matter? Variations in Childlessness Concerns Among U.S. Women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74: 1166–1181. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.01015.x
Department of Human Development and Family Science, Oklahoma State University, 1115 Main Hall, Tulsa, OK 74106.
ADVANCE-Nebraska, 115 Benton Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0620.
Department of Sociology, 210 Benton Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0623.
University Assessment and Testing, 107 UAT Building, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
- Issue published online: 24 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 24 SEP 2012
- involuntarily childless;
- life course;
- reproductive barriers;
- voluntarily childfree
Does the reason why women have no children matter with regard to level of childlessness concerns? Reasons include biomedical barriers, situational barriers, delaying motherhood, and choosing to be childfree. The concept of “childlessness concerns” captures the idea that holidays and family gatherings are difficult because of not having children or feeling left out or sad that others have children. Life course and identity theories guided the structural equation model analyses of a representative sample of 1,180 U.S. women without children from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers. The results indicated that women with the least control over pregnancy, those with biomedical barriers, had the highest childlessness concerns. As hypothesized, the association between reasons and childlessness concerns was mediated by the identity-relevant measure, importance of motherhood. Contrary to the authors' hypothesis, the association was not mediated by social messages to have children. Thus, it is primarily involuntarily childless women who have high childlessness concerns.