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The Long-Term Impact of Parents' Childbearing Decisions on Children's Self -Esteem

Publication Abstract

Axinn, William, Jennifer S. Barber, and Arland Thornton. 1998. "The Long-Term Impact of Parents' Childbearing Decisions on Children's Self -Esteem." Demography, 35(4): 435-443.

We examine the long-term impact of parents' childbearing decisions on children's self-esteem. We focus on subjective aspects of the home environment in the creation of children's internalized sense of self-worth. Unique 23-year family panel data combining measures of mothers' childbearing, mothers' childbearing intentions, and children's self-esteem allow us to examine the overall links between parents' childbearing and children's self-esteem. The results demonstrate that parents' childbearing intentions can have a significant long-term impact on their children's self-esteem. Children who were unintended by their mothers have significantly lower self-esteem 23 years later. Our findings indicate that giving birth to an unintended child can have a long-term negative impact on subjective aspects of the child's well-being, at least in terms of self-esteem. Unintended childbearing has received an increasing amount of research attention in recent years.

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