Change in Motherhood Status and Fertility Problem Identification: Implications for Changes in Life Satisfaction

Arthur L. Greil, Julia McQuillan, Andrea R. Burch, Michele H. Lowry, Stacy M. Tiemeyer, Kathleen S. Slauson-Blevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether the association between changes in life satisfaction and becoming a mother (or not) depends on fertility problem identification status. Background: Evidence and symbolic interactionist theory suggest that, for women who initially perceive a fertility barrier, gaining the valued identity “mother” should be associated with increases and continuing to face a blocked goal (i.e., not becoming a mother) should be associated with decreases in life satisfaction. Method: This study used the nationally representative two-wave National Survey of Fertility Barriers to conduct a change-score analysis with chained multiple imputation. The focal dependent variable was change in life satisfaction. Focal independent variables were Wave 1 life satisfaction, fertility problem identification status, and birth between waves, controlling for stability and change in relationship status, talking to a doctor about how to get pregnant, religiosity, social support, importance of parenthood, importance of leisure, importance of work success, and economic hardship. Results: Among women who perceived a fertility problem at both waves, becoming a mother was associated with increased life satisfaction and not becoming a mother was associated with decreased life satisfaction. Women who gained or lost a fertility problem perception between waves but did not have a live birth experienced a gain in life satisfaction between waves, suggesting the relevance of the duration of fertility problem perception for change in life satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1173
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • longitudinal research
  • parents
  • reproductive health
  • transitions
  • well-being
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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