Volume 50 - Article 35 | Pages 1039–1070  

Pathways and obstacles to parenthood among women in same-sex couples in Spain

By Diederik Boertien , Clara Cortina, Mariona Lozano


Background: Even though same-sex couples face clear obstacles to parenthood, little is known about the extent to which preferences and obstacles can explain the lower levels of parenthood among individuals in same-sex couples.

Objective: The objective is to document routes into parenthood and to quantify the gap between observed and desired number of children among women in different-sex and same-sex couples in Spain.

Methods: We use the representative 2018 Spanish fertility survey, which includes 14,556 women, of whom 139 are in a same-sex couple. We use coarsened exact matching techniques to match women across couple types who are identical on a set of observable characteristics.

Results: Less than half of women in a same-sex couple had children by the age of 40, as compared to around 80% of women in a different-sex couple. We do not observe changes in rates of parenthood across cohorts of women in same-sex couples, but do observe changes in the pathways followed. Even though women in same-sex couples have lower levels of desired fertility, the gap between desired and realized fertility is larger for women in same-sex couples than for women in different-sex couples.

Conclusions: Overall, results show that obstacles to parenthood are prevalent among women in both different-sex and same-sex couples, but appear particularly high and persistent for the latter.

Contribution: We are the first to quantify differences in the extent to which parenthood desires are met between women in same-sex and different-sex couples in Spain, using representative data.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Advanced or postponed motherhood? Migrants’ and natives’ gap between ideal and actual age at first birth in Spain
Volume 49 - Article 22

Do same-sex unions dissolve more often than different-sex unions? Methodological insights from Colombian data on sexual behavior
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Mixed marriages between immigrants and natives in Spain: The gendered effect of marriage market constraints
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Change and continuity in the fertility of unpartnered women in Latin America, 1980–2010
Volume 38 - Article 51

Why does women’s education stabilize marriages? The role of marital attraction and barriers to divorce
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The change in single mothers’ educational gradient over time in Spain
Volume 36 - Article 61

The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
Volume 34 - Article 29

Non-standard work schedules, gender, and parental stress
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Changes in educational assortative mating in contemporary Spain
Volume 14 - Article 17

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