The Role of Generativity in Psychological Well-Being: Does it Differ for Childless Adults and Parents?

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Given that parenthood is considered a central adult status with developmental implications, and an increasing number of adults are childless, we assessed whether adult development is structured differently for parents and non-parents. This study's main goal was to assess and compare the connection between generativity development—a key task of middle adulthood—and psychological well-being for childless adults (N = 289) and parents (N = 2,218), ages 35–74, using the 1995 MIDUS dataset. We also examined differences in these associations for women and men by parental status, because childlessness is often assumed to be more critical for females' than males' development. Structural equation modeling indicated a positive association between generativity and psychological well-being. Differences in this association for parents and childless adults were not evident, nor were there significant differences for childless women and mothers, and childless men and fathers. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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