Childbearing desires and models of “good” parenthood among U.S. young adults

Sarah Hayford, The Ohio State University

Sarah Hayford, The Ohio State University

After many years of stability, birth rates in the United States have recently declined to their lowest recorded level. This decline has been attributed in part to increasing economic precarity, particularly among young adults, coupled with high demands for investment in children. Still, most young people in the U.S. want to have children at some point. Understanding young people’s plans and goals for future childbearing is important for predicting future demographic trends. It can also shed light on the social meanings that young people assign to parenthood. In this talk, I draw on data from in-depth interviews with childless young adults to describe how young people envision “good” parenting and the extent to which these parenting logics are related to plans for future childbearing. Results suggest that young people feel a strong responsibility to provide emotional support as well as economic support to potential future children. The perceived emotional demands of parenting serve as a motivation for delaying parenthood.  

Tuesday, May 28, 1PM.

About the speaker:

Sarah Hayford studies family formation and reproductive health, primarily in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. She is interested in how people make plans about these behaviors and who is able to carry out these plans. Current U.S. projects include research on trends in childbearing desires, intentions, and behaviors and studies of reproductive health care access in Ohio. Outside of the U.S., Hayford is working with a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team to collect survey data on the women’s relationships with their adolescent and young adult children in rural Mozambique. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and seed grants from OSU’s Department of Sociology. Hayford also directs OSU’s Institute for Population Research.

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