Men, women and baby longing: cross-national differences

Beatrice Chromková Manea, Masaryk University
Anna Rotkirch, Population Research Institute, Väestöliitto
Ladislav Rabusic, Masaryk University

There is a growing tendency among population scholars that wishes and desires of men, women and couples should be taken into account when studying fertility (Thomson 1997). One emotion affecting contemporary childbearing is baby longing, defined as a strong desire to have a child of one’s own. There is surprisingly little research on baby longing (or “baby fever” or “biological clocks”), despite the fact that previous research results suggest that baby longing helps regulate reproductive timing and cannot be explained by sex roles or a general need to nurture. There are clear gender differences in baby longing, so that men experience it less often and with lower intensity compared to women (Rotkirch 2007, Brase and Brase 2011, Rotkirch et al. 2011). It is unclear how baby longing is affected by differences in fertility regimes and in gender equality on the macro and micro level. This paper analyzes gender differences in baby longing in the Czech Republic and Finland, its impact on fertility outcomes, and the main determinants of these differences. We will make use of two datasets – one for Finland (nationally representative “Family barometer” surveys from 2008 and 2010) and one for Czech Republic (study Male reproduction behaviour 2011) using the same questions. The Czech Republic has experienced falling fertility rates and postponement of childbearing. Various studies indicate a gender gap between Czech men and women both in the private and public sphere, although gender equality is institutionally advocated. Finland is characterized by late and relatively high fertility and by high gender equality in the public and private spheres. We hypothesize that baby longing is overall more prevalent in Finland, that socio-economic indicators are more strongly related to baby longing in the Czech Republic than in Finland, and that the sex differences show a similar pattern in both countries.

Presented in Poster Session 2