Send to

Choose Destination
J Biosoc Sci. 2003 Apr;35(2):213-26.

Postponing or rejecting parenthood? Results of a survey among female academic professionals.

Author information

Institute of Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg University, 55099 Mainz, Germany.


The current surge in childlessness is often seen as an alternative lifestyle amidst growing pluralism and individualism. The results of this study indicate that several subgroups of childless women need to be differentiated: those who actively decide to forgo children in favour of other life pursuits and those who merely defer the decision. Both have accumulated a high degree of human capital in their education or career-building paths. Thus, the increase of a woman's time invested in education or career formation takes its toll on the time available for childrearing. A survey performed among female academics (N = 193) brought to light that among childless women, many merely mean to postpone motherhood until their career prospects are established. Differences between those who outwardly reject motherhood and those who defer the decision can be seen in a variety of job- and career-related aspects. However, due to misconceptions about fertility, many of those who merely intended to postpone children may inevitably end up 'involuntarily childless'. As this trend is most likely to increase in the near future, the resolution of this conflict will be an important milestone in the development of modern industrialized countries. As can be seen from this survey, financial benefits will not induce women to enter into motherhood. Rather, societal and infrastructural changes have to be brought about in order to induce women to enter into motherhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center