Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR)


Date of this Version

May 2006


Published in Journal of Marriage and Family 68:2 (May 2006), pp. 478–490; doi 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00266.x Published on behalf of the National Council on Family Relations by Blackwell Publishing. Copyright © 2006 NCFR. Used by permission. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118493332/home


We use data from both waves of the National Survey of Families and Households to assess whether relinquishing a serious intention to have (more) children leads to greater increases in depressive symptoms than continuing confidence in childbearing intentions. Our sample includes 2,200 individuals of childbearing age, men and women, all parities, and all marital statuses. Change score analysis shows that individuals who relinquished a serious intent to have children had elevated distress at Time 2 and that the association is conditioned by gender, health, and education. We find that fertility potential can be important to psychosocial well-being and that closing the door on future fertility, especially for women, those in ill health, and the better educated, leads to increased distress.

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