The formation of personal fertility ideals: the importance of religion and family values

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Title: The formation of personal fertility ideals: the importance of religion and family values
Author: Häkkinen, Marie
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Psykologian maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Psychology
Magisterprogrammet i psykologi
Specialisation: ei opintosuuntaa
no specialization
ingen studieinriktning
Abstract: Finland is currently considered having one of the lowest total birth rates in the world. Even though declining fertility rates is a common phenomenon in most European countries, the ideal family size of European women has not followed the same trend. Recent research indicates, however, that fertility ideals might be declining as well. Given that fertility ideals are among the key factors driving fertility behavior, it is important to explore which factors are involved in their formation. The cognitive-social model of fertility intentions posits that our social context shapes our mental representations of the world and our role in it – our schemas. It is likely that religion influences even non-religious people’s schema formation through cultural components such as values, including those regarding family. To further understand how fertility ideals are formed in relation to religion and family values, I examined the personal ideal number of children reported by Finnish men and women of fertile age in cross-sectional 2008 and 2015 survey data. Based on the cognitive-social model of fertility intentions, I posed the hypotheses that the perceived importance of religion in one’s life is related to the personal ideal number of children, and that this association is, at least in part, explained by the perceived importance of family values. A simple mediation analysis conducted separately for both the 2008 and 2015 data supported both hypotheses, but the mediation role of family values was marginal. Both the importance of religion and family values were associated with a higher ideal number of children. Most of the influence of the importance of religion on the ideal number of children was independent of family values.
Subject: fertility ideals
family values

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