Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When To Have A Child? A New Approach To The Decision

Date:
November 9, 2007
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Women seeking to balance career, social life and family life in making the decision on when to have a child may benefit from applying formal decision-making science to this complex emotional choice.

Women seeking to balance career, social life and family life in making the decision on when to have a child may benefit from applying formal decision-making science to this complex emotional choice.

Related Articles


"This decision is too complex to logically consider all the relevant aspects intuitively in one's head," write Professor Ralph Keeney and doctoral student Dinah Vernik of Duke's Fuqua School of Business. "Yet, for many, it is too important and consequential to simply go with one's feelings."

The pair have demonstrated that using a formalized approach to this very personal decision may help a woman evaluate her options regarding the optimal time for her to attempt to conceive a first child. Their analysis, which was published in the current issue of the journal Decision Analysis, also reveals that women may have more options than they realize.

Keeney and Vernik developed a sophisticated logical decision model to help women weigh their options. Variables are plugged into the model which then attempts to balance the benefits of motherhood against its effects on career and social interests and the age-related concerns of diminishing fertility or an increased likelihood of conceiving a child with a genetic abnormality.

In their analyses, Keeney and Vernik illustrate their model by considering the situations of a 25-year-old doctoral student who desires an academic career and a 20-year-old college student who plans to pursue a professional career.

The doctoral student must assess how motherhood might affect her likelihood of achieving tenure at a university, but the authors note that this situation also applies to professional women in medicine, law and other fields where there is significant pressure to reach a particular career milestone in a defined period of time.

If a woman feels that having a child in the early years of her career will limit her focus on work and thus significantly reduce her chances of receiving tenure, the model will indicate that the optimal age to begin to have a family is after she achieves that rank.

However, in the case of a woman who does not feel that motherhood will be a significant barrier to her pursuit of a particular milestone, the model suggests attempting to conceive a first child at a younger age. Specifically, the model can calculate for any specific situation the level of anticipated negative career impact at which an individual woman may wish to postpone having a child.

The example of a 20-year-old college student illustrates the situation when a woman claims she does not want to have a child until she reaches a certain age, say 35 years old. The model suggests that, especially in cases where both family life and career are important to the woman, having a child much earlier may be a better long-term solution than waiting until she is more established in her career.

"It may seem surprising to suggest having a child at a younger age, even if the woman places no importance on having a child until a certain age," Vernik said. "But the model takes into account the fact that taking a maternity leave has less impact on the future career of a woman who is a student or in the beginning of her professional life. This woman's child will also be older and slightly more independent by the time the woman has reached the critical years of her career."

The researchers stress that their model should not be interpreted as prescribing solutions for women, but instead as a formalized way for helping them sort through conflicting pressures and considerations related to beginning a family.

"We use decision analysis all the time to guide complex business and policy questions and decisions, so why not use the structured approach to improve our understanding for making important personal decisions?" Keeney asked.

"A model like this doesn't, and shouldn't, preclude the role of emotion, input from the woman's partner, and other factors in personal decision making," Keeney said. But it does allow a woman to weight different factors according to her values, and then consider those factors in relation to each other in a systematic way."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "When To Have A Child? A New Approach To The Decision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071107160144.htm>.
Duke University. (2007, November 9). When To Have A Child? A New Approach To The Decision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071107160144.htm
Duke University. "When To Have A Child? A New Approach To The Decision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071107160144.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can Bitcoin Survive 2015?

Can Bitcoin Survive 2015?

Newsy (Dec. 22, 2014) Bitcoin's stock has tumbled significantly this year, but more companies now accept it, leading supporters and critics alike to weigh in on its future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins