Childlessness: A review of the theoretical frameworks and a proposition of general pathways
The literature on childlessness has received increasing prominence in demographic studies because, with increasing levels of childlessness, it helps the understanding of important demographic concerns, such as reproductive behavior, family formation, and gender relations. Although a growing number of empirical studies on low fertility have been discussing childlessness, less research has attempted to discuss it from a theoretical perspective. This work has, therefore, the objective of debating theoretically important and recurrent issues in the literature on childlessness. This general aim is divided into three specific objectives: First, to discuss a range of contexts, aspects, and theoretical approaches that explain childlessness, second, to document the association between childlessness and important sociodemographic variables, and third, to develop a proposition of general pathways to childlessness. This study shows that several socioeconomic factors together with important correlated theories help to explain increasing childlessness. It also documents how childlessness is especially related to higher levels of education, singlehood, being African descents, living in urban areas, and having no religious affiliation. This work also finds and discusses four general pathways to childlessness in the proposed framework. This study contributes to the development of the theoretical framework on childlessness and encourages further research into this topic.
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