Mate selection characteristics and fertility

Kairi Kasearu, University of Tartu
Mare Ainsaar, University of Tartu

Many European countries have faced fluctuations in fertility. Mostly the studies have concentrated on characteristics of female behaviour and fertility, less is known about the effect of male characteristics on fertility and even less attention has been paid on characteristics of a couple. The previous studies of partnership and fertility have concentrated on the similarity of partners’ socio-economic background and the effect of homogamy on fertility. Over decades the studies have indicated that mate selection is gender specific. Classical finding show that females value more than males good financial prospects and educational background in a potential partner and men place more importance on physical appearance – “good looks” and chastity (Hill 1945, Buss and Barnes 1986, Buss et al 2001)and women value cognitive ability, social skills, height, and conscientiousness more highly than men (Furnham 2009). The most of the explanations of sex differences in mate selection are derived from the field of sociobiology or evolutionary biology. According to these approaches the mate selection is leaded by desire to pass on genetic material through successful reproduction (Zhang 2009). Males and females have different strategies according different level of parental investments and thus different mate selection criteria. The aim of the study is to analyze with empirically representative data, if this notions is still valid in modern society. METHOD. Fertility and Family Policy Survey conduced in 2008 among 20-40 years old people in Estonia are used for analyses. Although mate selection features seems to influence life satisfaction and satisfaction with a partner, the results demonstrated only weak influence of partner selection criteria on fertility. Strong link between individual family life orientation and number of wished children and number of actual children revealed. Also educational balance of partners and length of a partnership predicted actual number and total number of wished children.

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Presented in Poster Session 1