Because motherhood is a valued status, the life course perspective and the theory of conjunctural action suggest the following hypotheses: for women in the United States, gaining the valued identity “mother” should lead to an increase in self-esteem, while identification with a fertility problem identity should lead to a decrease in self-esteem. Using the nationally representative two-wave National Survey of Fertility Barriers (NSFB), we conducted change-score analysis with chained multiple imputation (MICE) to model attrition. We compared changes in self-esteem by change and stability in motherhood and self-identified fertility problem status among women who initially had no children. Results provide support for the hypotheses. All but one group—those who no longer identified a problem and who had a baby—had declines in self-esteem. Women who persisted with a fertility problem identity and did not have a baby had the steepest decline in self-esteem.
- life course
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)