Men More Depressed Than Women If Childless
By Sarah Glynn
The research was presented at the British Sociological Association yearly conference in London on April 3rd. The researchers also discovered that some of the leading influences on a man's desire to have children are expectations from family and culture.
Robin Hadley, a researcher from Keele University, Staffordshire, England, conducted a survey which involved 27 men and 81 women who were not parents. The participants were asked whether or not they wanted kids and why.
According to the results, 59% of the males and 63% of the females said they wanted children.
Of the men who wanted kids:
- 50% had experienced isolation because they did not have any kids, vs. 27% of women
- 38% had experienced depression, vs. 27% of women
- 25% had experienced anger, vs. 18% of women
- 56% had experienced sadness, vs. 43% of women
- 56% experienced jealousy of those with children, vs. 47% of women
- 69% had experienced yearning for a child, vs. 11% of women
- No men had experienced guilt because they did not have any kids, vs. 16% of women
Mr. Hadley discovered that men and women had diverse influences on their wish to have children. Women without kids were more likely to report personal desire and biological urge as important influences, as opposed to men. Men were more likely to report societal, cultural, and family pressures than the women.
There has been limited research on men's desire for fatherhood, Mr. Hadley pointed out.
"My work shows that there was a similar level of desire for parenthood among childless men and women in the survey, and that men had higher levels of anger, depression, sadness, jealousy 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."
The survey was conducted using a questionnaire that people between the ages of 20 and 66 (average age 41) filled out online. A little more than 80% were white British, 69% had degrees, 69% worked full time and 90% were heterosexual.
This was a qualitative investigation as opposed to a quantitative statistical representation of British society, Mr. Hadley pointed out.
Since his research, the scientist has interviewed men who were involuntarily childless.
Below are some individual quotes:
- Russell, who said, "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, who said: "If you don't have children or grandchildren then that dimension of your life is missing."
- Martin, 70, who told him: "If I'd had children, I'd have been a proper grandfather. Maybe even a great-grandfather by now."
Some men confessed that a reason for not having kids was that they were too shy to develop relationships that led to children.
A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that a man who has never had kids has a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who are fathers.
Another 125 men and women who already had children were also surveyed to determine whether they wanted more kids.
The expert found that 50 women (59%) and 21 men (55%) wanted kids. When the females who wanted more children thought about not being able to have them, they had greater levels of depression, anger, isolation, guilt, sadness and yearning compared to men.