Presentation on theme: "Childbearing Intentions and Attitudes Towards Children among Childless Sexual-Minority and Heterosexual Men and Women. Nola du Toit Department of Sociology."— Presentation transcript:
Childbearing Intentions and Attitudes Towards Children among Childless Sexual-Minority and Heterosexual Men and Women. Nola du Toit Department of Sociology and the Center for Family and Demographic Research Bowling Green State University The author would like to thank Dr. Wendy Manning and Dr. Kelly Balistreri for their help.
Introduction Childbearing intentions and attitudes towards children are predictive of actual fertility, but few studies have focused on sexual-minorities. This research examines intentions and attitudes among sexual-minority men and women, compared to heterosexuals.
Background: Intentions and Attitudes Childbearing Intentions: Childbearing intentions are predictive of actual fertility (Schoen et al. 1999). Depends on how certain people are about their intentions. Differs by union type. Married women with positive intentions are more likely to have a child than unmarried women with positive intentions. Attitudes towards Children: Childbearing attitudes are predictive of actual fertility (Barber 2001). Depends on marital status. Positive attitudes towards children increase the odds of fertility within marriage, but not for unmarried. Positive attitudes towards alternatives (careers, luxury goods) reduce the odds of unmarried fertility.
Background: Sexual Minorities Sexual-minorities are also parents: 1 in 3 lesbians have given birth and 1 in 6 gay men have fathered a child (Gates et al. 2007). Sexual-minorities want to have children and have positive attitudes towards children: 41% of lesbians and more than half of gay men want to have children (Gates et al. 2007). Lesbian mothers are as likely as non-lesbian mother to have positive attitudes towards children, but lesbian mothers are less likely to agree that having children is one of life’s highest purposes (Siegenthaler & Bigner 2000).
Current Study: Hypotheses Sexual-minorities have similar childbearing intentions and attitudes towards children as heterosexuals. Sexual-minorities in married or cohabiting unions have more positive childbearing intentions and more positive attitudes towards children than sexual-minorities who are single.
Current Study: Contributions Uses nationally representative data. Examines childbearing intentions and attitudes among a frequently neglected segment of society: ◦ Fertility among sexual minorities contributes to the rate of unmarried fertility. Considers wanting a child, intentions, and certainty of intentions. Policy implications: ◦ If sexual-minorities are as likely to intend having children as heterosexuals, then public policies will have to consider sexual -minorities.
Data National Survey of Family Growth (2006) Cycle 6 ◦ Total: 12,571 Ideal data on childbearing intentions and attitudes towards children. Includes large sample of sexual-minority men and women. ◦ Sexual-minorities: 1,169
Analytic Sample Over 18 years of age and childless Fertile: if heterosexual cohabiting or married, partner must also be fertile Valid responses on intentions, certainty of intentions, and sexual orientation Final sample size: ◦ Total: 4,655 ◦ Heterosexual: 4,171 ◦ Sexual Minority: 484
Dependent Variable: Intentions Certainty of Childbearing Intentions: Survey questions: “Do you want a child,” “Do you intend having a/another child?” and “ How certain are you that you do/do not intend having a/another child?” - Combination of wanting, intending, and certainty of intentions. (0) Do not want to have a child (1)Very or somewhat sure about negative childbearing intentions (2)Not very sure about negative childbearing intentions (3)Do not know childbearing intentions (4)Not sure about positive childbearing intentions (5)Very or somewhat sure about positive childbearing intentions
Dependent Variable: Attitudes Attitudes towards children: Survey questions: “The rewards of having children are greater than the cost” and “How much would it bother you if it turned out that you did not have any children?” ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree and not bothered at all to very bothered. Scale variable that ranges from very negative towards children (0) to very positive towards children (8).
Primary Predictor Variable Sexual-Minority and Couple Status: Survey question: “What is your current relationship?” and “What do you consider yourself to be? Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or something else?” * ◦ Heterosexual Coupled ◦ Heterosexual Single ◦ Sexual-minority Coupled ◦ Sexual-minority Single *Due to the small number of cases, sexual minorities who respond that they are married or in a cohabiting union are put in the same category. For consistency, the same is done for heterosexuals.
Control Variables Attitude towards children In analysis on certainty of childbearing intentions Socio-demographic variables Age, Sex, Race, Income, Education Background variables Mother’s Education, Religiosity
Analytic Strategy OLS regression is used for the analysis of the certainty of childbearing intentions. OLS regression performed on attitudes towards children. All analyses are weighted according to dataset prescribed weights.
Results: Wants and Intentions Two thirds of sexual-minorities want to have children (66%), but only slightly more than half intend having children (58%). Sexual-minorities who intend having children are significantly fewer than those who want to have children. The level of both wanting a child and childbearing intentions for sexual-minorities is significantly lower than that of heterosexuals.
*** ***Significant (p <.001) difference between heterosexuals and sexual-minorities. ††† Significant (p <.001) difference between sexual-minorities who want a child and who intend having a child ††† ***
Results: Intentions Men: Sexual-minority men have significantly fewer positive intentions than heterosexual men. There are no differences by couple status. Women: Couple status and age distinguishes childbearing intentions among sexual-minority women. In multivariate models, there are no significant difference between sexual-minority and heterosexual women under the age of 30, regardless of couple status. Among women over age 30, sexual-minorities who are single have significantly less positive intentions than coupled sexual-minority and all heterosexual women.
Results: Attitudes Men: Sexual-minority men have significantly lower positive attitudes towards children than heterosexual men, regardless of couple status. Women: There are differences by couple status and age. In multivariate models, younger sexual-minorities in couples are similar to heterosexuals in their attitudes towards children, but significantly different to single sexual-minorities. After controlling for other factors, all older women, despite differences in sexual orientation and couple status, have the same attitudes towards children.
(0) Negative Attitude Towards Children (8) Positive Attitude Towards Children *p <.050, **p <.010, ***p <.001 *** * *
Conclusions More than half of sexual-minorities intend having children. But these are less than heterosexuals. Sexual-minority men do not have the same attitudes or intentions as heterosexual men, regardless of couple status. Younger sexual-minority women are not different in their intentions than younger heterosexual women. Younger sexual-minority women in a couple are more positive towards children than singles. Older coupled sexual-minority women have higher childbearing intentions than older single sexual-minority women. There are no differences in attitudes among older women.
Limitations Sample size prevents more refined comparisons. The question of current relationship type is flawed. The cohabitation category mentions living with a member of the opposite sex. It is not possible to determine how sexual- minorities answered this question. There are some sexual-minorities who are married. It may be that they consider themselves married, even if not legally. On the other hand, some may be involved in heterosexual unions. The analytic sample only includes those who are childless. There may be selection issues, especially among those who are childless at older ages.
Future Studies Examine more closely the differences among sexual- minorities according to couple status and sexual- minority subgroups (homosexual, bisexual, etc). Study childbearing intentions and attitudes among sexual-minorities at higher parity levels.