Population Research and Policy Review 16: 435–446, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Men’s attitudes toward parenthood
Carolina Population Center, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina,
Abstract. In recent family literature, men are often characterized as deadbeat dads, with a
focus on their lack of involvement, mainly ﬁnancial but physical and emotional as well. At
the same time, there has been little attention paid to how men feel about being parents. This
paper examines men’s attitudes toward parenthood using data from the National Survey of
Families and Households. The results indicate (1) married men are signiﬁcantly less likely
than unmarried men to think that the stress of raising children, the ability to purchase goods,
career time, leisure time, and old age security are important considerations in deciding whether
or not to have a child; (2) men with higher education are more likely than less educated men to
consider time for career and time for leisure and social activities important in making fertility
decisions but are less likely to consider having someone to love important; and (3) black and
Hispanic men are more likely to place importance on old age security than non-Hispanic white
Key words: Attitudes, Fatherhood, Fertility, Parenthood
In recent family literature, men are often characterized as deadbeat dads,
having deserted their children before birth by not marrying their mothers or
after birth through divorce. The focus has been on their lack of involvement,
mainly ﬁnancial but physical and emotional as well. At the same time, there
has been little attention paid to how men feel about being parents.
This paper examines men’s attitudes toward parenthood. What factors are
important for men in thinking about whether or not to have a child? How
do marital status and other sociodemographic characteristics inﬂuence these
attitudes? Unlike previous studies, the focus here is on single and married
adult men. Data from the NSFH are used to look at the factors likely to be
important in childless men’s fertility decisions.
This article is based on a paper presented at the 1995 annual meeting of the Population
Association of America, San Francisco, CA.