Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Population Research and Policy Review (2018)

doi 10.1007/s11113-018-9476-2


Copyright © 2018 Springer Nature B.V. Used by permission.


In this article, we show that social science research on fertility and infertility consists of largely separate research traditions, despite shared interest in pregnancies and births (or lack thereof). We describe four ways these two traditions differ: (1) publication trajectories and outlets, (2) fields of study and major theoretical frameworks, (3) degree of attention to the other topic, and (4) language and definitions used. We then discuss why future integration of these bodies of research would be beneficial, outline potential steps toward rapprochement, and provide common areas of dialogue that could facilitate and enrich these bodies of research. We offer a more holistic framework using the reproductive career as an extension of existing lifecourse approaches in both fertility and infertility research. We conclude with a brief empirical example and discussion of methodological issues for measuring and modeling reproductive careers.