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Title: Childlessness and parenthood in Colombia
Author: Perez, Cristina Mercedes
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 1814
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Colombia has undergone profound socio-demographic changes over the past halfcentury, transforming the ‘average’ family and shifting gendered norms around education, work, and domestic life. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, and a broad definition of non-parenthood that includes all women and men who do not (yet) have children, I analyse childlessness across the ‘continuum’ of intentionality from choice through chance. By combining micro- and macro-analyses of (non-)parenthood in Colombia, I aim to critically engage with theoretical frameworks like the Second Demographic Transition (SDT), which explains large-scale socio-demographic change using individual-level ‘value’ re-orientations. This thesis presents the first comprehensive, quantitative analysis of Colombian childlessness. Employing descriptive statistics and logistic regression modelling to analyse census and Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 1985/86-2015, I establish the trend in female childlessness and explore intentionality; analyse factors associated with nonparenthood; and compare women and men. I show that overall childlessness is relatively low and stable (consistently comprising ≤10% of women in their 40s), though ‘voluntary’ non-motherhood has increased over time. Union status is strongly associated with female and male childlessness at all ages, and although ‘definitive’ non-motherhood is associated with higher education (indicating advantage), ‘definitive’ non-fatherhood is associated with socioeconomic disadvantage. A year of anthropological fieldwork, including 35 semi-structured interviews with women and men (non-parents and parents), provided further insight into the factors underlying childlessness. I found that ‘intensive’ parenting ideals pervade Bogotá’s middle classes and are woven into narratives of non-parenthood. Non-parents also emphasised circumstantial and altruistic motivations, resisting the equation of childlessness with selfishness. Women typically framed non-motherhood using discourses of female empowerment/self-reliance, whereas men sought domestically-engaged fatherhood and fewer self-defined as ‘voluntarily’ childless. Although largely consistent with the SDT’s focus on self-fulfilment, these personal narratives also highlight important circumstantial and social factors which complicate explanations primarily based on ‘individualisation’ processes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available