Does personality impact fertility?


Could it be that fertility is tied to personality? An fascinating new study published in the European Journal of Personality looks at the effects of personality on a person’s likelihood for having children. And, extroverts watch out – you may be the most fertile!

Traits which influence fertility

Using survey and registry data for Norwegian men and women born between 1927 and 1968, researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) combined personality surveys to examine the connections between fertility and personality. Over 7,000 individuals contributed to the research data. Results showed that personality may have something to do with fertility but operates differently for men and women. Conscientiousness decreased female fertility. Openness decreased male fertility. Extraversion raised fertility for both men and women. Researchers also found an interesting decline in fertility for men labeled as neurotic, moody or emotional – but only for those born after 1957. That change may be explained by couples waiting longer to have children, but they can’t be sure.

Projecting demographic change

The research is important to the IIASA since they research projected future changes in sustainability, climate energy and food security. In Norway, the number of men without children by age 40 increased 15% to 25% between 1940 and 1970. That was only slightly as true for women increasing from 10% to 13%.

First study to examine falling fertility as it relates to personality

“Many trends that have been observed first in Norway – increasing cohabitation, divorce rates and later marriage, for example – have then been observed later in many other parts of the world,” said lead author Vegard Skirbekk, pointing out the wider implications of what happens in Norway. This is the first study of its kind to examine the decline of fertility rates in Europe as it relates to fertility. “Child bearing in contemporary richer countries may be less likely to be influenced by economic necessities and more by individual partner characteristics, such as personality,” according to the study.

Source: European Journal of Personality, MedicalNewsToday


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