Are Men or Women More Likely To Want Kids? The Answer May Surprise You

This study suggests that men and women may not be on the same page about kids.

Young family playing with a kite on an autumns day


Young family playing with a kite on an autumns day

Photo by: enigma_images


By: Amanda Mushro

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Are single men dreaming of diaper duty, middle-of-the-night feedings, and taking on carpool duty? Pop culture would have us believe that it’s only young women who are dreaming of becoming a parent someday. How many times have you seen the whole biological clock ticking trope played out in TV and movies? But in reality, that may not be the case. A new study finds that young men and women may agree on wanting to get married someday but they have differing opinions about having kids.

According to a study from Pew Research, when young adults who do not have children are asked if they want to have kids, 57% of young men say they want children one day compared to only 45% of women surveyed. So, while less than half of the women who were part of the study said they had motherhood on their to-do list, a significant number of men said they wanted to become fathers some day.

"Among young adults without children, men are more inclined than women to express a desire for parenthood in the future. Yet, there is no noticeable difference between genders when it comes to aspirations to marry," said lead researcher Carolina Aragão.

For this study, the Pew Research Center surveyed 1,495 Americans between the ages 18 to 34 to find out how they felt about becoming parents at some point in their lives. While 51% said they want kids, another 30% said they were not sure, and 18% said they did not want kids.

One factor in the decline in women wanting to be mothers is that many adults are choosing to wait longer before they tie the knot. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2022, the median age for marriage was 30.1 years old for men and 28.2 years old for women. This number has steadily increased for decades. Take for instance in 1920, the average age men got married was 24.6 years of age and for women it was 21.2 years old.

Other factors like their careers, the lack and expense of childcare, the cost of raising kids, concerns around pregnancy and giving birth, and the mental load of being a parent are all reasons why some young adults are making the choice to not have kids.

So, what about their parents wanting to be grandparents? How does this affect their decision? According to the study, potential grandparents aren’t really playing a role in the young adults’ decision to marry or have kids.

"Among those who've never been married, 73% say they don't feel much or any pressure from their parents to do so. Another 15% say they feel some pressure, and 12% say they feel a great deal or a fair amount of pressure," the study reads.

"Similarly, a majority of young adults who don't have children (67%) say they don't feel much or any pressure from their parents to do so. About one-in-five (19%) say they feel some pressure to have kids, and 14% say they feel a great deal or a fair amount of pressure."

According to those surveyed for the study, "feeling pressure from parents to do either of these things doesn't differ by gender."

Here’s another interesting point from the study. Among the adults surveyed, 20% say being married is extremely or very important for people to live a fulfilling life, and 22% say having children is extremely or very important. However, 68% say the same about having a job or career they enjoy, and 62% say this about having close friends.

While the age adults choose to get married continues to change, it seems that attitudes towards becoming a parent are changing as well.


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