Attitudes about Childlessness in the United States: Age, Gender, and Other Correlates

Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, University of Florida
Gretchen Luecking, University of Florida

Acceptance of childlessness among Americans has increased in recent decades. This paper uses data from the National Survey of Families and Households (1987-88 and 1992-94) to examine the correlates of negative, neutral, or positive attitudes about childlessness. Reported attitudes reflect the extent of agreement with the following questions: "it is better to have a child than to remain childless" (time 1) and "a man/woman can have a fulfilling life without children" (time 2). Bivariate results show more positive attitudes at time 2 and among those who are young, never married or cohabiting, childless, or adoptive parents, and those of higher socio-economic status. More negative attitudes are related to lower education, unemployment, lower childhood socio-economic status, or being Hispanic. Multinomial logistic regressions show strong differences and interactions by gender, age, racial-ethnic group, and parental status that remain after controlling for other factors, but partner status and childhood background are not significant.

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Presented in Session 24: Attitudes and Expectations about Childbearing and Childrearing