Al context of childlessness and parenting. Generally, childless young adults report

Al context of childlessness and parenting. Generally, childless young adults report better well-being than parents (Nomaguchi Milkie, 2003), although one study found that childlessness in young adulthood may be stressful in the context of thwarted fertility intentions, AZD-8835MedChemExpress AZD-8835 especially for women with lower purchase HS-173 family income (McQuillan, Greil, White, Jacob, 2003). As for childlessness at midlife, Koropeckyj-Cox, Pienta, and Brown (2007) analyzed national, cross-sectional data toJ Marriage Fam. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 August 23.Umberson et al.Pagecompare the well-being of childless women and mothers in their 50s and found that childlessness was not associated with worse psychological outcomes in midlife. It was women who became mothers early in the life course who experienced lower wellbeing– largely because of marital disruption and fewer socioeconomic resources. Several recent studies have explicitly compared the well-being of parents and the childless in later life. This issue is more relevant now than in the past because of increasing longevity, lower marriage rates, and increasing numbers of childless individuals–a combination of factors that may contribute to greater isolation and distress in older populations (Zhang Hayward, 2001). Zhang and Hayward analyzed a national cross-section of Americans age 70 and older and concluded that any effects of childlessness on well-being were apparent only within the context of marital status and gender. Childlessness was associated with higher rates of depression and loneliness, but only for unmarried men. Consistent with this U.S. finding, a cross-national study based on data from Australia, Finland, and the Netherlands revealed that formerly married men who were also childless reported particularly poor health (Kendig et al., 2007). In contrast, unmarried childless women appeared to fare well in later life. Bures, Koropeckyj-Cox, and Loree (2009) analyzed a national cross section of mid- and late-life adults and found that the childless exhibited less depression than parents. This positive image is further supported by cross-national data showing that never married childless women had high levels of social activity (Wenger, Dykstra, Melkas, Knipscheer, 2007) and were more highly educated than other groups of women (Koropeckyj-Cox Call, 2007). Socioeconomic and personal resources may shape expectations and meanings of parenthood and, in turn, these symbolic meanings influence well-being. For example, Koropeckyj-Cox (2002) found that, among the childless (age 50 ?84), negative attitudes toward childlessness were associated with lower levels of well-being (more loneliness and depression), and, among parents, worse than expected relationships with adult children were associated with lower well-being. Thus, structural factors may shape the probability of childlessness as well as moderate the consequences of childlessness on well-being. In sum, just as parenthood is not a monolithic experience that affects well-being, childlessness is not the same experience for all individuals. The available evidence suggests that childlessness has few costs for psychological well-being and may even be associated with enhanced well-being, at least for certain social groups. Social contexts shape the meaning, experience, and consequences of childlessness in ways that may undermine wellbeing for some select groups (e.g., young women facing infertility and older unmarried men). Parenthood is increas.Al context of childlessness and parenting. Generally, childless young adults report better well-being than parents (Nomaguchi Milkie, 2003), although one study found that childlessness in young adulthood may be stressful in the context of thwarted fertility intentions, especially for women with lower family income (McQuillan, Greil, White, Jacob, 2003). As for childlessness at midlife, Koropeckyj-Cox, Pienta, and Brown (2007) analyzed national, cross-sectional data toJ Marriage Fam. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 August 23.Umberson et al.Pagecompare the well-being of childless women and mothers in their 50s and found that childlessness was not associated with worse psychological outcomes in midlife. It was women who became mothers early in the life course who experienced lower wellbeing– largely because of marital disruption and fewer socioeconomic resources. Several recent studies have explicitly compared the well-being of parents and the childless in later life. This issue is more relevant now than in the past because of increasing longevity, lower marriage rates, and increasing numbers of childless individuals–a combination of factors that may contribute to greater isolation and distress in older populations (Zhang Hayward, 2001). Zhang and Hayward analyzed a national cross-section of Americans age 70 and older and concluded that any effects of childlessness on well-being were apparent only within the context of marital status and gender. Childlessness was associated with higher rates of depression and loneliness, but only for unmarried men. Consistent with this U.S. finding, a cross-national study based on data from Australia, Finland, and the Netherlands revealed that formerly married men who were also childless reported particularly poor health (Kendig et al., 2007). In contrast, unmarried childless women appeared to fare well in later life. Bures, Koropeckyj-Cox, and Loree (2009) analyzed a national cross section of mid- and late-life adults and found that the childless exhibited less depression than parents. This positive image is further supported by cross-national data showing that never married childless women had high levels of social activity (Wenger, Dykstra, Melkas, Knipscheer, 2007) and were more highly educated than other groups of women (Koropeckyj-Cox Call, 2007). Socioeconomic and personal resources may shape expectations and meanings of parenthood and, in turn, these symbolic meanings influence well-being. For example, Koropeckyj-Cox (2002) found that, among the childless (age 50 ?84), negative attitudes toward childlessness were associated with lower levels of well-being (more loneliness and depression), and, among parents, worse than expected relationships with adult children were associated with lower well-being. Thus, structural factors may shape the probability of childlessness as well as moderate the consequences of childlessness on well-being. In sum, just as parenthood is not a monolithic experience that affects well-being, childlessness is not the same experience for all individuals. The available evidence suggests that childlessness has few costs for psychological well-being and may even be associated with enhanced well-being, at least for certain social groups. Social contexts shape the meaning, experience, and consequences of childlessness in ways that may undermine wellbeing for some select groups (e.g., young women facing infertility and older unmarried men). Parenthood is increas.

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