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Childlessness Bothers Men More Than Women
Date:10/19/2007

Study found the more educated the woman, the less the idea bothered her

FRIDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women are more comfortable with the idea of childlessness than men, new research shows, and the surprise finding might really reflect differences in how each gender views the pressures of parenthood.

"On a basic level, for men and women, parenting and parenthood mean different things," said study author Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox. "For me, it reflects that there's something important happening in the experiences of men and women where those different experiences are leading to different perceptions of family, relationships, gender and children."

Differences in socioeconomic factors such as race, age, employment, attitudes toward marriage and religion explain only part of the gender gap. "Instead, these responses indicate greater acceptance of childlessness, particularly among women, as one possible life path whether chosen or shaped by circumstances," the study concluded.

The research is published in the November issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. The study is based on data collected in two national surveys that were conducted in 1987 to 1988 and in 1994. Over the past few decades, the number of women who are childless has varied widely, said Koropeckyj-Cox, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Florida.

During the Baby Boom years, only about 9 percent of women were childless in their 40s. Recent statistics indicate that about 20 percent of women in their 40s are now childless, she added. "As women wait longer to have children, they may be less likely to have children," she explained.

"It's definitely a big shift," Koropeckyj-Cox said. "1962 is the tail end of the Baby Boom, and there definitely was a feeling that having children was what everybody did. The attitudes were definite and specific. Those who couldn't were regarded with pity, and those who could b
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