Gender, Sexuality and Race Inequalities in Procreation Attitudes Across Post-industrial Countries


In my PhD thesis I investigate which micro and macro level factors impact citizens’ attitudes towards who should and who should not become parents. My research perspective is on comparing post-industrial countries since 1980. Examples such as rollbacks in reproductive rights, contestation of medically assisted reproduction and nativist rhetoric from radical right parties show that the topic of procreation and parenthood is at the center of political discourse worldwide. I argue that a common thread in these debates is the question of who is expected, allowed and denied to participate in the continuation of a citizenry. On the micro-level I examine the impact of political ideology, religiosity and socio-demographic aspects on citizens’ attitudes towards who is and who is not supposed to parent. On the macro-level, I consider the differential effects of structural factors such as reproduction policies, status of minority rights and racial composition. Methodically I work with cross-country data and use multi-level modelling in my work.  I employ this research framework in the context of social inequality concerning gender, sexuality and race.

First, I investigate how strongly citizens in post-industrial countries view parenthood as an essential part of people’s life trajectories. Primarily I look at the influence of different reproduction policies and their underlying norms around the importance of procreation. Furthermore, I am interested in whether attitudes towards expected parenthood differ in regards to motherhood and fatherhood.

Second, I examine how attitudes towards same-sex parenting in Europe have developed over time in response to changes in LGBTQ+ rights. I am especially interested in the effect of norms that assume procreation to be a natural process. I consider same-sex marriage legislation as well as access of sexual minorities to medically assisted reproduction technologies as potential drivers of support for or backlash against same-sex parenting.

Third, I study in the US context how racial identification affects citizens’ attitudes towards the procreation of the own as well as other racial groups. Here, I examine whether the procreation of certain racial groups is viewed as more desirable than that of others. Furthermore, I investigate how citizens react to demographic shifts in racial composition in regards to their attitudes towards the procreation of different racial groups.