Is Perceived Inability to Procreate Associated with Life Satisfaction? Assessing Associations by Gender, Age and Parity

Julia McQuillan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jasmin Passet-Wittig , Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany
Arthur Greil, Alfred University
Martin Bujard, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)

When people perceive an inability to procreate naturally (PIP) do they have lower life satisfaction than when they do not? Prior research has focused on the consequences of assisted reproductive technology treatments for psychological outcomes more than on population models of infertility and psychosocial outcomes. U.S. studies find that PIP is more relevant for psychosocial outcomes than medically-defined infertility, likely because PIP reflects salience, self-reflection and self-identification. PIP may lower life satisfaction if it threatens gender identity, reflects worse health, and/or represents a barrier to realizing the life goal of having one’s own child(ren). We use the first nine waves of the German family panel pairfam to study the effects of within-person changes in PIP and life satisfaction. Preliminary results reveal that PIP has a strong negative association with life satisfaction. Surprisingly, the association is similar for men and women and does not vary by age. Having children between waves of data collection is associated with higher life satisfaction. Higher perceived value of children is associated with higher, and higher perceived costs of children are associated with lower life satisfaction. The association of PIP and life satisfaction is robust to adding these variables. These findings suggest that PIP is important for the well-being of adults; especially for those without children and for those who have only one child. This underlines the importance of education to help adults understand their fertility and public support for reproductive health evaluations and treatments.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course