The attitude toward voluntary childlessness in Europe: cultural and institutional explanations

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The prevalence and social acceptance of childlessness have increased in recent decades. Still, little is known about how this social acceptance is shaped, the extent to which approval of childlessness differs across Europe, and what factors cause potential cross-national variation. The authors used data from the European Social Survey 2006 (N = 36,187) to examine the attitude toward voluntary childlessness in 20 countries. Results from multilevel models were largely in line with expectations derived from Second Demographic Transition theory concerning traditional orientation, age, religiousness, education, and stage of Second Demographic Transition in a country. The results also corroborated individual-level expectations on the role of gender and socioeconomic status based on New Home Economics theory. One country-level indicator, child-care availability, was not related to the attitude toward childlessness. The current study provides new insights into explaining cross-national differences in the attitude toward childlessness and more generally into the process of fertility decision making. © National Council on Family Relations, 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-600
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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