Continuous postponement, or rejection of parenthood? Multivariate analysis of childless young adults in Finland

Anneli Miettinen, The Population Research Institute, Helsinki
Anna Rotkirch, Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto

In Finland, as in many other industrialized countries, women and men are close, or over 30 years of age when they become parents. Childlessness in every age group is increasing, but little is known whether this follows from voluntary decisions or involuntary reasons. We look more closely at childlessness among Finnish men and women aged 25-44 years and try to identify different groups of childless persons and sociodemographic factors related to them. Data come from Well-being in Finland 2008 -survey among 7000 25-44-year-old Finnish men and women who had either no children or one child. We focus on childless persons (N=1208). Childless persons were divided into four groups according to intentions related to the number and timing of children and certainty of intentions. Multinominal logistic regression was used to analyze sociodemographic correlates of the four groups of childlessness. Majority of the childless Finns intended to have children, but were still postponing parenthood. Voluntary childlessness was relatively rare among 25-34-year old persons and increased slightly among older persons. A considerably large proportion had given up their childbearing plans even at a relatively young age. Among married or cohabiting couples six percent were voluntarily childless. Value orientation and childhood home characteristics explained voluntary childlessness. Partnership was a more important predictor of men's childbearing ideas than those of women's, and diminished the effect of many other variables. Economic resources explained childbearing intentions particularly among men. Highly educated women were more likely to postpone childbearing even when the other factors were controlled for. Cohabitation, and among women, urban residence, was also associated with postponement of parenthood. Fecundity impairments explained childbearing intentions less than we expected: ten percent of those who had abandoned childbearing plans had experienced difficulties in conceiving while the majority of those who had had infertility problems were still trying to have children.

Presented in Poster Session 1