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Russian Social Science Review, vol. 52, no. 2, March–April 2011, pp. 59–70. © 2011 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved.

ISSN 1061–1428/2011 $9.50 + 0.00.

S.S. BalaBanov, B. nauck, and Z.kh.-M. Saralieva

A Typology of Reasons for Having Children or Not
The decline in the size of the population in Russia presents economic and social challenges for the society and for policymakers, but research data show that the values found in families (and especially the values of women) do not lead one to expect much change in the number of children born to Russian families in the foreseeable future.

The reproduction of new generations is an imperative condition that is necessary for the existence of any society. The new situation in our country, in the sphere of parenthood and birthrates, demands that it be studied and that measures be worked out to influence it. In the course of an international research project titled “The Value of Children and Intergenerational Relations,”1 300 mothers of preschoolers (children between the ages of two and three), 300 mothers of adolescents (ages fifteen to seventeen), 300 adolescents, and 100 maternal grandmothers of adolescents were surveyed in Russia, which became a part of the research in 2006. It was carried out in Nizhnii Novgorod oblast,
English translation © 2010 M.E. Sharpe, Inc., from the Russian text © 2009 the authors. “Tipologiia motivov imet’ ili ne imet’ detei,” Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia, 2009, no. 3, pp. 129–36. A publication of the Russian Academy of Sciences; the Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences; and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Translated by Kim Braithwaite. Translation reprinted from Sociological Research, vol. 49, no. 5. Sergei Semenovich Balabanov is a candidate of philosophical sciences and the head of the Nizhnii Novgorod division of the Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences. Bernhard Nauck is dean of the faculty of philosophy at the Technical University in Chemnitz, Germany, and chairman of the Committee for Research on the Familyoft the National Sociology Association (2002–6). Zaretkhan KhadzhiMurzaevna Saralieva is a doctor of historical sciences and head of the Department of General Sociology and Social Work of the Department of Social Sciences at N.I. Lobachevskii Nizhnii Novgorod State University.
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and in rural areas. determines the reproductive behavior of women.60 RuSSian Social Science Review in the center.* We have proceeded on the assumption that the value of children is an inseparable part of mutually beneficial relations between generations. The question was formulated as: “Think about your experience with your own children *Gisela Trommsdorff. in small towns.2 This project represents an expanded and modified version of the original study titled “The Value of Children” (VC). 2001). and a number of other questions. and the sociocultural context on the exercise of parenthood and on relations between children and parents. intergenerational relations. which integrates the significance of the set of reasons for desiring to have children or not to do so. In the interviews with the women two blocks (batteries) of scales designed to determine the importance of the factors named above were used. 2001). the value of children. In the present article. on the basis of a quota sample. . the individual value orientations and various aspects of relations between parents and children (Trommsdorff. investment in children. Furthermore. the study focused on both universal conditions and conditions specific to a particular culture reflecting connections between socioeconomic and other structural features of a number of countries (and. it accomplishes the task of drawing up a typology of mothers with respect to the value of children. “Value of Children and Intergenerational Relations” (University of Konstanz. which to some extent are supported by the attitude of the marriage partner and by a complex of other sociocultural factors that need to be examined. based on materials of three generations. chiefly. the behavior of children. using the methods of factor and cluster analysis. In the framework of the project. accounts for the influence of the personality of parents. birthrates (including the desired number of children). which was started in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1970s and was devoted. support networks.—Ed. It is proposed that for parents the value of children. cultures). adolescents’ attitudes (both sexes) about the number of children in their own future family life. which is shared by a number of authors. The study investigated the actual reproductive behavior of women. accordingly. and the birthrate. Differences in world birthrate levels can be accounted for by women’s attitudes toward giving birth to a certain number of children. to the study of connections between socioeconomic conditions. the authors confined themselves to a presentation of the results of the study of the behavior and judgments of Russian mothers of preschool children ages three to four (the MP file) and the mothers of adolescents ages sixteen and seventeen (the MA file) concerning factors that would prompt them to want to have children or not. This approach.

” In the second case. The procedures of the factor analysis and cluster analysis were applied to two blocks of questions. not introducing any major distortions in the data. Earlier.3 Questionnaires that met the requirements of factor analysis were taken for the study: 261 questionnaires filled out by mothers who had small children and 287 by mothers who had adolescents. Tables 1 and 2 contain the average values of the scores of agreement with each of the reasons to have or not to have children in the subsamples MP and MA. Omissions in the data (“no answers” in the indicated blocks) were isolated cases. of which the mothers of adolescents have more. a last child) and the mothers of adolescents. The mothers of small children (in half of the cases these were mothers of a first child and. Since the analysis was intended to be conducted on questions that were the same for the two categories. Each block had its own factor and cluster model. and the family moral value as having support in old age. at the same time. thus keeping the sample complete for analysis and. and they consisted of a number of sets of judgments. while they had much in common with respect to their positions and attitudes about the value of children.” The approach was similar in the case of “Your desire not to have children. economic/normative (traditional). the reference is to giving birth to a second child and subsequent children (childless women were not surveyed). substantially modifies the judgments of the two types of mothers.RuSSian Social Science Review 61 and tell us how important the following factors are for your desire to have children. differed from each other with regard to the significance of reasons for desiring to have children. researchers had singled out and utilized for further analysis these component values (VC emotional. The young mothers were characterized by priority given to the emotional component. which made it possible to replace them with average or mean levels with respect to the corresponding variables. The reasons for wanting to have children or not were substantiated theoretically. Having personal experience in raising children. the second block of questions included assessments of the degree of agreement with suggested reasons not to have children (twenty-one reasons). The presence of significant differences in the degree of agreement with the sets of judgments between the two categories of mothers does not give .1. the merged file can be seen as a single sample consisting of 548 people. the first of which included assessments of the degree of agreement with suggested reasons for having children (twenty-seven reasons). Each variable contained scores of agreement ranging from 1 (absolute disagreement with the reason) to 5 (complete agreement). most often. The significance of the differences in the averages between the subsamples was determined in accordance with the t-criterion for independent samples on the level of significance of p < 0.

1.4 2.7 3.7* 2. and their age.2* 3.6* 2.4* 4. the younger cohort of mothers does bring elements of newness into public opinion and practices.3 4.8 3.1 4.9* 2.6 3. .62 RuSSian Social Science Review Table 1 Mean Score of Mothers’ Reasons to Have Children Reasons to have children You feel pleasure when you watch how your child is growing The happiness of having a small child Because of the special love that develops between a parent and a child Your life will be continued through your children To have someone to love and take care of It is fun to have children in the home You want to share what you have with children Children raise your feeling of responsibility and help you to develop Raising children helps you to learn more about life and about yourself People who have children are less likely to be alone in old age Your children will be able to help you when you are old So that your child or children will have someone to associate with Any new member of the family makes your family more meaningful Children bring you closer to your husband In order to be confident that enough children will live to adulthood So that the family name and family line will not end Children help to strengthen ties with relatives When the husband wants more children Being parents improves your position and reputation among your relatives A child helps around the home To have a girl or another girl To have a boy or another boy Children are another reason for you and your husband to be more successful in your work According to your faith it is a duty to have children Thanks to your children you will be able to find new friends To have another person who would provide material help to the family Some of your older relatives think that you should have more children MP 4.5* 2.9* 3.1 3.7* 2.1 4.3* 4.1* 3.7* 3.3 2.8 2.0 1.9* 3.5 2.5 2. Naturally.7 3.7 3.2 2.4 2. grounds for seeing them as two different generations.5* 2. in many cases the health of the mothers of adolescents.3 2. *Differences in the averages are significant at the level of 0.3 2.1* 2.0 2.4 2.6 4.8* 3.5* 4.0 3.2 2.0* notes: MP—mothers of preschoolers.5 4. nonetheless.9 MA 4.6* 2.5 3.6 3.6 3. MA—mothers of adolescents. act as a limiting factor on the number of children in the family.3 4.9 2.5 3.4 2.7 3.6 3.4 4.

1 1.8 1.6* notes: MP—mothers of preschoolers.0 2. the same as the level of satisfaction with the number that they already have. The appropriateness of the samples for factor analysis was confirmed by the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin method and came .6 2.7 2.3 2.0* 1.2 3.4 2.1* 3.0 3.RuSSian Social Science Review 63 Table 2 Average Scores of Reasons Not to Have Children MP I already have as many children as I wanted We do not have adequate housing conditions Because of great anxiety over children’s future My health does not allow having more children Children represent a financial burden to the whole family You will be unable to take sufficient care of your children and pay attention to them Your husband does not want any more children You or your husband are already too old With children you are not free enough to do what you want to A child makes for a lot of chores It is harder to keep a job It is difficult to discipline and control children It is hard to take good care of the family and do the housework Children cause a lot of worry when they are sick Because of fear of pregnancy and childbirth It is not possible to spend a lot of time with my husband when there are children Children bring in their wake new problems in the marriage You lose contact with friends Large families are not very well accepted in society Children create problems with neighbors and the public The role of mother is not especially approved of by the people with whom you associate 3.1 2.9 2.4 2.8 2. or else they put it off to the distant future. MA—mothers of adolescents.5 2.0 3.” and they refuse to have children.4* 3.5 MA 3.3 2.8 2.3 2.3 2.1* 2. *Differences in the averages are significant at the level of 0.7 2.5 2. Many young mothers “want to have some life of their own for a while.9 3.” Some of them take this to be the norm.5* 2.7* 3.3* 3.8 2. while others take an active position of “fighting for personal freedom. the task was to draw up a typology of the value of children for both sets.8 2.1* 2.6* 2.6 2.6* 3.7* 2.1.8 2.9 1. In the course of analyzing the data.5 3.9 2.

the mean level of each of the factors for the sample as a whole is approximately equal to zero. The basic criterion for the quality of the factor model. Nonetheless. was 28 percent.” and the third—“continuing one’s self in one’s children. and.” The accuracy of the individual variables was observed on the level of not less than 0. and 9 percent). therefore. the proportions of the factors were 28 percent and 12 percent). which were reproduced by the factor model with substantial errors. When it comes to the block of reasons “not to have children. The proportion of the correlation coefficients between the initial variables. 11 percent. The factor levels were evaluated for each respondent separately. is below the mean level: the remnants for 26 percent of the correlation coefficients exceeded 0.” the second—“children are life’s happiness. is normal (see Table 4). As the criteria for the number of factors were the principle of “rocky talus” (the singling out of factors with distinguishably greater dispersion) and the control of the reproducability of the matrix of correlations. accounting for 40 percent of the total dispersion of the twenty-one standardized variables (after rotation.75. These considerations are necessary in order to interpret the individual levels of the factors as well as to understand the results of subsequent cluster analysis in the space of shared factors.” These are the exact interpretations used in the cluster format. the reproducability of the correlations between the initial features. the proportions of factors were 14 percent. The factors were extracted using the method of chief axes with subsequent rotation by the Varimax criterion. namely. Singled out for the block of reasons to have children were three factors that take into account (explain) 34 percent of the total dispersion of twentyseven standardized variables (after the rotation.” the second—“inability to have children” (most often at work in this case are references to the state of the woman’s reproductive health and age as well as the husband’s desire not to have another child).87 in the case of the block of reasons for “having children” and to 0. In consideration of the levels of the maximum factor loads.9 for the block “not having children. the first factor can be called “children as a factor of family integration. for the block of reasons “not to have children” only two common factors were extracted. According to the algorithm of the assessment. The commonalities of the variables fall within the range of 19 percent to 52 percent. only three factors had noticeably higher dispersion than the rest of the factors. it was decided to use this version of the model (see Table 3). the dispersion of each of the factors in the sample can be considered as unique. under the conditions of such a high degree of compression of the space (27/3 and 21/2).” we can call the first factor “children as a problem.64 RuSSian Social Science Review to 0. The commonalities of the variables are in the range of 17 percent to 50 percent. In accordance with the same principles. . The presence of such errors in both models.05 by module.

44 0.25 are not shown).26 — — — — — — — — — — — — 0.29 0.54 0.38 0.30 — — 0.52 — — — — 0.39 0.28 — 0.72 0. .58 — — 0.59 — — — — 0.43 0.38 0.43 — 0.RuSSian Social Science Review 65 Table 3 Matrix of Factor Loads for the Block of Reasons to Have Children Factor no.30 note: Correlation coefficients of the factors and the initial variables (absolute levels smaller than 0.40 0.64 0.42 2 — 0.68 0.48 0.38 — 0.70 0.43 0. Reasons to have children A child helps around the house Any new member of the family makes your family more meaningful Children bring you closer to your husband Children are another reason for you and your husband to be successful in your work Children raise your sense of responsibility and help you to develop Children help to strengthen your ties with relatives It is fun when children are in the house It is a joy to have a small child You feel pleasure when you watch your child grow Because of the special love that develops between a parent and a child Being a parent improves your position and reputation among your relatives People who have children are less likely to be alone in old age Raising children helps you to learn more about life and about yourself Some of your older relatives think that you should have more children Thanks to your children you will be able to find new friends You want to share what you have with your children Your life will be continued through your children To be confident that enough children will live to adulthood To have a girl or another girl So that the family name and family line will not end To have another person who would provide material help to the family To have someone to love and take care of So that your child or children will have someone with whom to associate To have a boy or another boy According to your faith it is your duty to have children When your husband wants more children Your children will be able to help you when you are old 1 0.35 — — — 0.46 — 0.27 — 0.44 0.36 — — — — 3 0.39 0.35 — 0.38 0.45 — — 0.51 0.72 0.46 0.43 0.44 0.56 0.34 — 0.

66 0.43 0.43 0.42 — — — — — 2 — — — — — — — — — — — 0.60 0.66 RuSSian Social Science Review Table 4 Matrix of Factor Loads for the Block of Reasons Not to Have Children Factors Reasons not to have children A child makes for a lot of chores It is hard to discipline and control children Children create problems with neighbors and with society Children bring in their wake new problems in the marriage Children are a financial burden to the whole family It is hard to take good care of the family and do household chores It is harder to continue working Big families are not very well accepted in society Because of fear of pregnancy and childbirth Children are a cause of worry when they are sick With children you do not have enough freedom to do what you want Because of major worries about the children’s future You will be unable to take sufficient care of your children and pay attention to them It is not possible to spend very much time with your husband when there are children You lose contact with friends The role of mother is not especially approved of by the people with whom you associate You already have as many children as you wanted You and your husband are already too old Your health does not permit having more children You do not have adequate housing conditions Your husband does not want to have more children 1 0.64 0. is not a consequence of the fact that the sample was put together out of the two files of young mothers and older mothers.76 0.69 0. and so on are at work.69 0.64 0.62 *Coefficients of correlation of factors and initial variables (absolute levels smaller than 0. The preliminary study of the distributions of the factors that have been evaluated does not enable us to say that there is a pronounced cluster structure of the respondents.79 0.66 0.32 — — — 0.31 0. older age. The appearance of the factor in which the concepts of health.60 0.71 0.49 0. A similar factor structure is also observed when the files are examined separately.25 are not shown).50 0.66 0. this is a typical result for any factor analysis that includes .49 0.40 0.65 0.

00 –1.73 40 3 0. In view of the absence of a pronounced cluster structure. and 24 percent. and 36 percent of the respondents. so that the basic criteria of the number of groups that were singled out consisted of the ability to interpret the solution and the existence of significant connections between the groups thus singled out and a number of other variables (the type of sample.91 –0.29 43 2 0. three clusters each are formed in the factor space of the reasons to have children or not.06 30 3 0.73 –1. The level of filling of the clusters is.4 Nonetheless.06 –0. solutions with a different number of clusters can be seen as equivalent variants of grouping. Contingency tables were used to study further interconnections between the respondents’ membership in a given group (cluster) and other characteristics .59 0.49 0. respectively: 43 percent.92 0.52 27 Table 6 Cluster Centers in the Factor Space of Reasons Not to Have Children Cluster Name of factors Children as problems in life Inability to have children Size of cluster (548 = 100%).RuSSian Social Science Review 67 Table 5 Cluster Centers in the Factor Space of Reasons to Have Children Cluster Factor Children as a factor of family integration Children as life’s happiness Continuation of oneself (family line) in children Size of cluster (548 = 100%).42 –0. % 1 –0. The coordinates of the cluster centers in the factor space are presented in Tables 5 and 6. In this way. the respondents were formed into clusters in the space of the common factors using the k-means method. the education of the respondents. etc. 40 percent.39 0. the task of searching for variants of ways to group the respondents in the space of the factors that determine the correlations of the variables being observed is always appropriate.). and 27 percent. All of the factors differ substantially in the mean levels between the clusters. For each of the factor models. % 1 –0. 30 percent.12 36 a large number of variables.06 24 2 –0.

problems relating to the upbringing and care of the child. acting up. and they feel that children would be a hindrance to their career. having just one child is enough to be happy. How can we designate the groups of mothers that are combined in the delineated clusters? It is very difficult to express in just one or two words the designation of the clusters in a way that captures their essential nature. In the third cluster we find the female representatives of families of the child-centered type. This case includes women whose distinguishing feature is the fact that for them. Reasons for having children such as continuing one’s own life in one’s children are less pronounced. In the first cluster.” The designation of the first cluster is determined by the fact that in it. the people in this cluster are at the center of the factor space. With respect to the other dimensions. 36 percent of the mothers have a higher education. 43 percent. it is possible to note the priority that is given to relations between husband and wife compared to parenthood. The indicators of the emotional component are minimal in this case: children are not so much a joy as a problem. with a combination of happiness in having a child and the expression of the hope that the child will grow up to be a good human being. For them. continuing themselves in their children is not a paramount motive. and that as one generation replaces the other. sadly. The commonality of the mothers included in the cluster consists of a pronounced orientation toward relations between husband and wife. The first cluster in the space of the three factors of reasons for having children can be called the “conjugal family”.68 RuSSian Social Science Review of the mothers. limitations on the parents’ freedom in life and activities. In the second case. The proportion of such mothers (families) is large. What is fully at work here is a phenomenon that is gathering force today in Russian society. And the problems increase with age. namely. Significant connections in accordance with the χ2 criterion on the significance level p < 0. and is only likely to rise over time. the problematic character of the families involves. a certain amount of provisionality of our designations is obvious with respect to the groups of mothers that are similar in regard to the components of the value of children. The emotional component of the value of children in this case is relatively large.1 have been commented on in the work. for this reason.” a position that results in the postponement of having a first or subsequent child until an indefinite later time. young married couples’ orientation toward “living for themselves. and problems in school and at home. the second cluster—the “problem family”. the child will be a reliable . in particular. and in this regard children are not a key factor in family integration for the married partners. children do not represent happiness in life but rather an object of fatiguing chores and worries: illness. but for the mothers in this cluster. the third cluster—the “child-centered family.

this figure is substantially higher than in the case of similar plans of the mothers in the second cluster (22 percent) and the third cluster (30 percent). the phenomenon of families with few children (one child) is noted in 56 percent of the “conjugal” families. . such families are not numerous. husband. “not to have children”: The mothers that make up this relatively homogeneous motivational community are characterized by their lack of reaction to the majority of the suggested reasons “not to have children. This type of mothers in families cannot be acknowledged as the model for emulation. Thirty percent of the females stated that they had given birth to as many children as they wanted. In this category we find the smallest proportion of mothers who have a higher education (20 percent). The second cluster.” these total almost half: it is a natural reaction to unhappy personal experience in raising children. In the “conjugal family” cluster.RuSSian Social Science Review 69 link in continuing the family line. more than 40 percent of the women would like to have another child. But today. so that the reproductive potential in this age group is still in place. and it hardly likely that their numbers will increase in the near future and break up the negative phenomena that characterize the reproduction of the population of Russia. which is indicated by the large level of the cluster center on the axis of the factor “inability to have children” (–1. The size of this potential childbearing file of women comes to almost a quarter of the entire sample. In the second cluster. “It is too late now!” is the largest in terms of the number of Nizhnii Novgorod respondents (40 percent). taking care of them. Almost two-thirds of the female representatives in the first cluster are young mothers (MP). and their development. Twenty-two percent mentioned being anxious about the future of their children in these troubled times.06). In fact. It is the smallest in terms of numbers. and in 46 percent of the child-oriented families. The designation of the first cluster.” and they themselves did not mention any obstacles whatsoever to childbearing. and life in general are found in the child-centered cluster. and 27 percent complained of not having their own place to live as a reason for deliberately having few children. The mothers in the third cluster live primarily in rural areas and in small towns and communities. The best indicators of mothers’ level of satisfaction with family. “problem families. In this case the motivation for “not having children” is clearly salient on the basis of objective factors. in 49 percent of the problem families. The third cluster: higher indicators of children (31 percent) of mothers in the first cluster and almost the same proportion (30 percent) in the third cluster do not want to have children or are unable to have more. This aspect also plays a key role in the other clusters. whereas the proportion of “conjugal”-type families is higher in big cities.

the Republic of South Africa. India. the highest level of agreement is prompted by reasons such as anxiety about their children (67 percent). and Otto G. and able to ensure positive results in the functioning of society. outside the united States. and also references to older reproductive age (60 percent. the study was carried out in twelve other countries: Korea. China. and. 2. Nauck. 4. 2005. 3.” For them. with 88 percent. D.” They respond dramatically to the substantially larger number of proposed reasons “not to have children. Saralieva. Schwenk. One gets the impression that the women want to convince themselves and others that under such conditions.-M.-M. Klein. The authors of the study were German scientists Gisela Tromsdorff. Notes 1. 3 (Nizhnii Novgorod: NISOTs.70 RuSSian Social Science Review Also resonating are reasons such as the woman’s poor state of health (and not only reproductive health). Bernhard Nauck. call 717-632-3535. B. the need to keep their jobs (to combine parental functions with full employment—51 percent). 18. A. “Sem’ia i tsennost’ detei v Germanii. and satisfaction with the number of children they already have. the statement that “with children you are not free enough to do what you want” (49 percent). Turkey. Pradeep Chakkarath.” It is necessary to make explicit what we mean by the socioeconomic. it is not possible to have children and raise a worthy generation. call 1-800-352-2210. the lack of adequate housing. Palestine. under the direction of Z. the Czech Republic. the United States. sociocultural. self-sufficient. Klaus. 23. Taiwan. Sostavitel’ i nauchnyi redaktor Z.” Sotsiologiia 4M. the study was carried out in Nizhnii Novgorod oblast in 2006 and 2007. Kryshtanovskii. and many others. and T. as has already been mentioned.” in Sotsial’nye nauki: Referativnyi sbornik.” consists of mothers for whom children are “not only the flowers but also the thorns of life. the inability to devote enough time to the children (52 percent). and Ghana. Saralieva.O. in Russia. Indonesia. In addition to Russia and Germany. We consider this to be the kind of family that is intrinsically valued.Kh. “Anxious responsibility. To order reprints. Beate Schwarz. “Klastery na faktorakh—ob odnom rasprostranennom zabluzhdenii. anxiety about children in these troubled times. . Not one of the family types that have been singled out can aspire to the role of the ideal or “successful modern family. vyp. Israel. The third cluster. Using a unified method of research. 2007) p.Kh. no. the mothers of adolescents). and sociopsychological phenomenon of a successful family.

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