The Effect of Personality, Physical Attractiveness, and Intelligence on Fertility Outcomes: Evidence from Multiple Surveys

Keuntae Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This paper explores the effects of personality traits, intelligence, and physical attractiveness, in addition to socioeconomic indicators, on two important fertility outcomes: timing of childbearing and completed fertility. The central proposition is that an individual’s life-course outcome is a holistic process involving the psychological, biological, and socioeconomic influences accumulated over one’s life. The results from the WLS, MIDUS, and ACL indicated that extraversion significantly accelerates childbearing and increases number of children. The present study also provides support for the strong and positive correlation between physical attractiveness and reproductive success even among contemporary populations. The effect of intelligence on childbearing appears to be mediated by educational attainment. The intended contribution of this research is to go beyond the prevailing paradigm of proximate determinants for social behaviors by examining more fundamental causes and their functional relations with other features and with the whole individual.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior