Men 'more depressed and sad' than women if childless, says study

Apr 03, 2013

Men are almost as likely as women to want children, and they feel more isolated, depressed, angry and sad than women if they don't have them, a new study says.

The research, presented at the British Sociological Association annual conference in London today [Wednesday 3 April], also showed that cultural and family expectations were among the main influences on men's wish to have children.

Robin Hadley, of Keele University, carried out a survey of 27 men and 81 who were not parents to ask them if they wanted to have children and why. Mr Hadley found that 59% of men (16) and 63% of women (51) said they wanted children.

Of the men who wanted children:

• 50% (8) had experienced because they did not have any children, compared with 27% women (14)

• 38% (6) had experienced depression because they did not have any children, compared with 27% women (14)

• 25% (4) had experienced anger because they did not have any children, compared with 18% women (9)

• 56% (9) had experienced sadness because they did not have any children, compared with 43% women (22)

• 56% (9) experienced jealousy of those with children, compared with 47% of women (24)

• 69% (11) had experienced yearning for a child, compared with 71% women (36)

• No men had experienced because they did not have any children, compared with 16% women (8)

Mr Hadley found that the influences on who wanted to have children varied.

were more likely to cite personal desire and biological urge as major influences, compared to men. Men were more likely to cite cultural, societal and family pressures than were women.

"There is very little research on the desire for among men," Mr Hadley said. "My work shows that there was a similar level of desire for among childless men and women in the survey, and that men had higher levels of anger, depression, sadness, and isolation than women and similar level of yearning.

"This challenges the common idea that women are much more likely to want to have children than men, and that they consistently experience a range of negative emotions more deeply than men if they don't have children."

Mr Hadley conducted the survey using an online questionnaire among people aged 20 to 66, with an average age of 41. Just over 80% were white British, 69% had degrees, 69% worked full time and 90% were heterosexual. Mr Hadley said this was a qualitative study rather than a quantitative statistical representation of British society.

Mr Hadley also surveyed another 125 men and women who already had children to find out whether they wanted more. He found that 50 women wanted children (59%) and 21 men (55%). The women who wanted more children, when they thought about not being able to have them, had higher levels of anger, depression, guilt, isolation, and yearning than men.

In research carried out since his study, Mr Hadley has interviewed involuntary childless men. Among them were Russell, 55, who told him: "I'm 55, the light's been getting dimmer and dimmer and dimmer of me ever being a father, to the point now where it's not going to happen."

George, 60, said: "If you don't have children or grandchildren then that dimension of your life is missing."

Martin, 70, told him: "If I'd had children, I'd have been a proper grandfather. Maybe even a great grandfather by now."

Mr Hadley's work has drawn interest from across the world and he has been invited to conduct a talk on his work to the leading worldwide professional web-based network Sociology at Work.

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User comments : 8

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jamesbraginton
1.5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
True. Also, a new study suggests women enjoy action movies more than men.
RobertKarlStonjek
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 03, 2013
Sample far to small to draw any conclusions, a giving percentages on a sample of 27 men is little more than a sick joke. The main component of this study is not the data but the analysis.

Don't get me wrong: the data and analysis may well be correct, but drawing such firm conclusions from such infirm (small data set) data is simply bad science in my opinion.
bredmond
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2013
I wonder what the statistics would be like if they also did a study on gay men to see their life satisfaction with a lack of children. I think a large sample size of the existing study as well as a new study that is similar but focuses on the feelings of gay men would be significant and worthwhile.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Gayness should be banned.

I don't care what a survey says.

Perverts like those have no business raising children anyway.
DirtySquirties
1.3 / 5 (6) Apr 04, 2013
I've seen student created surveys that last for less than one week have more data points than that.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2013
Obviously, the sample size here is too small to draw any conclusions. However anecdotally, I've found that men feel much more deeply and honestly than women. Case in point, most great artists are men. And altruism is almost entirely a characteristic of men (when was the last time you read about a woman sacrificing herself for a stranger?).

Women have a "culture" of caring, but they generally only care about how they are perceived, mostly by other women. This is why women's fashions change enmass. They are all acutely aware of what each other is doing, and don't much care about anything else.

In short, women care about people and things because they are expected to care, not so much because they truly and deeply feel it themselves.

Clue: To get the best looking women, they have to believe you're socially acceptable amongst their peers. To keep a woman, you have to maintain that perceived social status.

In short, marrying a woman is about marrying to status. Rich guys win.

MandoZink
4.3 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2013
Case in point, most great artists are men.

Women were traditionally denied or ignored. The few women who were allowed to paint had to sign the name of their father or brother on the work. It wasn't an equal opportunity profession. Few jobs were back then.

And altruism is almost entirely a characteristic of men(when was the last time you read about a woman sacrificing herself for a stranger?).

Women take on burdens you would not believe. Silently, without recognition.

Want a clue on why you might not know this? Re-examine your "Clue:"
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2013
Women were traditionally denied or ignored. The few women who were allowed to paint had to sign the name of their father or brother on the work. It wasn't an equal opportunity profession. Few jobs were back then.
Notice that I used the present tense "are."

Even the great women's clothing designers are mostly men.

Women take on burdens you would not believe. Silently, without recognition.
Mostly only those that are expected of them by "society," like raising children.

Sacrifice isn't altruism if you're doing it with an expectation of social approval.

Want a clue on why you might not know this? Re-examine your "Clue:"
Upon reexamination, it seems it would have generally been more accurate to use the phrase "socially desirable" instead of "socially acceptable."

Other than that, I do not perceive your point.

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