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

Diederik Boertien , Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Clara Cortina , Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Mariona Lozano , CED, Centre for Demographic Studies

Previous research has shown that women in same-sex couples have fewer children than women in different-sex couples. Even though the obstacles towards parenthood for sexual minorities have been widely documented, little is known about the extent to which preferences or obstacles can explain the lower levels of parenthood among same-sex couples. In this article, we take advantage of unique representative data from Spain on realized and desired fertility, which also includes reported reasons for not achieving desired fertility. The 2018 Spanish fertility survey interviewed a representative sample of 14,556 women out of whom 139 women were in a same-sex couple at the time of interview. We use coarsened exact matching techniques to match women in same-sex couples to women in different-sex couples who are exactly the same on a set of observable characteristics. We show that 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 and this gap increases with age. When asked why women in same-sex couples are not (yet) a mother, their answers primarily relate to economic and work-related issues. Overall, results show that obstacles toward parenthood are prevalent among both women in different-sex and same-sex couples, but might be particularly high for the latter.

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 Presented in Session 13. Novel Perspectives in Fertility Research