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Childless men more depressed than women: study

Men without children tend to associate jealousy, loneliness, and depression with the fact that they did not have kids

Press Trust of India  |  London 

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Men are more likely to feel depressed and angry than women if they are childless, a new study has claimed.

Men without children tend to associate jealousy, loneliness, and depression with the fact that they did not have kids, according to research from Keele University.

The impact can last a lifetime, with many older men feeling pangs of regret when their friends become grandfathers, the study found.

The findings also showed that men felt the absence of children in different ways to women, The Telegraph reported.

While some women said they felt 'guilt' about not having children and spoke of feeling a 'biological' need, men were more likely to cite cultural and family expectations.

Meanwhile, among those who are already parents, women are more likely than men to feel a strong desire for a second child.

The study was presented to the British Sociological Association's annual conference in London by Robin Hadley, a counsellor and doctoral student at Keele University who interviewed two samples of men and women with and without children.

Half of the men who did not have children said they felt isolated, compared with just over a quarter of the women.

Almost four out of 10 childless men said they felt depressed, compared with three out of 10 of their female counterparts.

When asked if they felt a 'yearning' to be a parent, the responses were similar for childless men and women - with seven out of 10 saying that they did.

While around one in seven women without children said it made them feel 'guilt' none of the men polled cited this emotion.

"There is very little research on the desire for fatherhood among men," said Hadley.

"My work shows that there was a similar level of desire for parenthood among childless men and women in the survey, and that men had higher levels of anger, depression, sadness, jealousy and isolation than women and similar level of yearning," Hadley said.

"This challenges the common idea that women are much more likely to want to have children than men, and that they consistently experience a range of negative emotions more deeply than men if they don't have children," he said.

First Published: Wed, April 03 2013. 13:10 IST