Do depression and loneliness affect fertility intentions and their realisation? Evidence from Norway and Sweden
Depression and loneliness are widespread problems in modern European and North American societies. Although there are several reasons to expect mental health to affect fertility, the topic is so far underexplored. This study examines how depression and loneliness are associated with three fertility outcomes: the propensity to report a positive short-term fertility intention, the propensity to realize a positive fertility intention, and the propensity to abandon rather than postpone a positive fertility intention. The study uses data from the Norwegian and Swedish Generations and Gender Surveys from 2007/2008 and 2012/2013, together with their follow-ups based on population registers. Results show that depression is negatively associated with the propensity to report a positive fertility intention among Norwegian women. Among Swedish women, both depression and loneliness are negatively associated with the propensity to realize a positive fertility intention. Among Swedish men, depression is associated with an elevated propensity to abandon, rather than postpone, a positive fertility intention. To our knowledge, this study is the first to show how depression and loneliness relate to fertility intentions and their realization. The study contributes to the understanding of both the determinants of fertility and the consequences of two common mental health issues.
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Original titleDo depression and loneliness affect fertility intentions and their realisation? Evidence from Norway and Sweden