Ambivalence about Children in the Family-Building Process in Sweden

Eva Bernhardt, Stockholm University
Fran Goldscheider, University of Maryland

Research on the effects of attitudes towards children and subsequent childbearing has focused on relatively simple measures, but as in studies of intergenerational relationships, ambivalence may characterize the attitudes of young adults when they consider decisions related to parenthood. Many may have both strong positive feelings, such as about children confirming adult status, and strong negative feelings, given the great costs of children, both in time and money. In Sweden, the primary costs of children are temporal, because of generous paid parental leave, subsidized child care, and child allowances. Nevertheless, Sweden has shared in the growth of norms of intensive parenting, greatly increasing the time costs of children. We will examine the effects on fertility of ambivalent attitudes towards children. We will build on two completed papers, one on the determinants of holding ambivalent attitudes and one on the factors affecting these fertility transitions (both available on request).

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Presented in Session 173: Fertility Attitudes and Intentions in Low-Fertility Societies