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Childlessness

  • By: Gayle Letherby
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

In contemporary Western society, there are higher numbers of infertility cases than ever before. In addition, there are more women and men choosing to remain childless. Those who do have children have them later and have fewer; and increasing numbers of babies are born following some form of medical assistance, from self-administered donated sperm to medically sophisticated procedures such as egg donation. World fertility surveys and national censuses suggest that virtually all permanent childlessness in the developing countries is involuntary. Falling birth rates stimulate many concerns, and throughout the world, ideologies of motherhood (and fatherhood) and expectations to parent affect all women and men, whether or not they are parents. Arguably, these ideologies are more of an issue for women, as the ideal view of ...

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