Is perceived inability to procreate associated with life satisfaction? Evidence from a German panel study

Julia McQuillan, Jasmin Passet-Wittig, Arthur L. Greil, Martin Bujard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most studies of the psychosocial consequences of infertility have focused on those who seek medical treatment, leaving a research gap regarding the psychosocial consequences of perceived inability to procreate in the general population. Moreover, most studies are cross-sectional and the results are thus likely affected by omitted variable bias. Inspired by aspects of the Theory of Conjunctural Action, this study analysed 10 waves of data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) for women and men using fixed effects panel regression and including time-varying control variables suggested by theory and research. This study found that both women and men experienced lower life satisfaction in years when they perceived an inability to procreate. This association was not affected by the inclusion of relevant time-varying control variables. Furthermore, the association between perceived barriers to procreation and life satisfaction was found to differ depending on life circumstances and gender. Women with partners and men without partners had lower life satisfaction when they perceived an inability to procreate compared with when they did not. Women and men who intended to have a(nother) child had lower life satisfaction when they perceived an inability to procreate compared with when they did not. The association, however, was only significant for men. Somewhat surprisingly, women who perceived an inability to procreate also had lower life satisfaction when they were not intending to have a(nother) child. This study makes an important contribution to research on the psychosocial consequences of perceived infertility, and provides insights into why some people may pursue assisted reproductive technology for family creation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalReproductive Biomedicine and Society Online
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Fixed effects regression
  • Gender
  • Infertility
  • Life course
  • Life satisfaction
  • Perceived inability to procreate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology

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