Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Sociological Perspectives (2014), 16 pp.; doi: 10.1177/0731121414534393


Copyright © 2014 Julia McQuillan, Arthur L. Greil, Karina M. Shrefler, and Andrew V. Bedrous; published by Sage Publications. Used by permission.


Fertility intentions are associated with achieved fertility; therefore, understanding the factors associated with fertility intentions is important. Considerable research has examined factors associated with fertility intentions, but no one has explored the importance of motherhood to women. Guided by life course and identity theories, we use the National Survey of Fertility Barriers, a data set collected from a random sample of U.S. women aged 25–45 in 2004 through 2007, to assess the relationship between importance of motherhood and fertility intentions. Adding importance of motherhood to a model including other variables associated with fertility intentions increases the variance explained by 6.4 percent. Importance of a motherhood identity mediates the association of fertility intentions with such demographic and social correlates of fertility intentions as gender attitudes, valuing leisure, valuing career, religiosity, and family profertility messages. It is therefore helpful to explicitly include the importance of the motherhood identity in models of fertility intentions.