Delaying, debating and declining motherhood

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24 Scopus citations


Trends of delayed childbearing have accompanied declining birth rates and increasing numbers of childless adults in the USA. Women may postpone parenting in order to save money, find a partner, and get a ‘family-friendly’ job, but this reproductive strategy may not always be effective. This paper uses two waves of longitudinal data to track childless women’s reproductive decision-making and behaviours. During wave 1, interviews were conducted with 72 childless US women between the ages of 25 and 40 about their reproductive desires and intentions. Approximately four years later, a subset of the original sample participated in surveys to assess consistencies between fertility intentions and outcomes, and in-depth interviews to elicit information about changes in their lives that transpired. Whereas some wave 2 participants had fulfilled their goal of becoming parents, the majority were still employing a delaying strategy or had declined to have children. Delayed childbearing was individually strategic for those who could garner resources to be in a better financial or social position to have and raise children, while others kept facing barriers that prevented them from realising their reproductive goals or changed their mind about their fertility intentions and desires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1034-1049
Number of pages16
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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