The effect of paternal investment on female fertility intention in South Korea

Sang Mi Park, Sung IL Cho, Man Kyu Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Life history theory views reproduction as an outcome of resource allocation. The allocation of resources such as parental investments of time, energy and material resources involves trade-offs between number of offspring and timing of reproduction. Within the framework of mammalian parental investment, the outstanding feature of human reproduction is the high level of paternal care. Although empirical evidence suggests that human paternal investment may have evolved as a reproductive strategy to reduce infant and child mortality rates, the effects of actual paternal investment, including allocating time to child care, on female reproductive decisions have received relatively little attention. We examined the trade-off from two perspectives using a representative sample of married South Korean women aged 20-44 in 2005 (n=977). First, paternal investment in domestic labor, including child care and housework, was expected to be associated with women's preference regarding future reproduction. Second, relative paternal investment was expected to increase women's preference for future reproduction, especially among employed women. We found that increased paternal investment in child care and housework remarkably enhanced women's intention to have a second child, especially among employed women. In addition, although family members provide a low percentage of child care in South Korea, such help is likely to be a useful resource for second childbirth among employed women. Somewhat expectedly, older age and longer time since first birth had negative effects on women's second-child intention. There is growing evidence that, in the lowest fertility societies, paternal investment may be an essential resource for promoting future reproductive behavior of women, especially employed women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov


  • Employed women
  • Fertility
  • Life history theory
  • Paternal investment
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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