Fertility and Infertility: Toward an Integrative Research Agenda

  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • Arthur L. Greil
  • Karina M. Shreffler
  • Julia McQuillan
Original Research


In this article, we show that social science research on fertility and infertility consists of largely separate research traditions, despite shared interest in pregnancies and births (or lack thereof). We describe four ways these two traditions differ: (1) publication trajectories and outlets, (2) fields of study and major theoretical frameworks, (3) degree of attention to the other topic, and (4) language and definitions used. We then discuss why future integration of these bodies of research would be beneficial, outline potential steps toward rapprochement, and provide common areas of dialogue that could facilitate and enrich these bodies of research. We offer a more holistic framework using the reproductive career as an extension of existing lifecourse approaches in both fertility and infertility research. We conclude with a brief empirical example and discussion of methodological issues for measuring and modeling reproductive careers.


Fertility Infertility Lifecourse Reproductive career Reproduction 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2011 NCFR Theory Construction and Research Methodology Workshop.


This research was supported in part by a Grant from NICHD [R01-HD044144 “Infertility: Pathways and Psychosocial Outcomes” (Lynn White and David Johnson, Co-PIs)].


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine M. Johnson
    • 1
  • Arthur L. Greil
    • 2
  • Karina M. Shreffler
    • 3
  • Julia McQuillan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of SociologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Alfred UniversityAlfredUSA
  3. 3.Oklahoma State UniversityTulsaUSA
  4. 4.University of Nebraska, LincolnLincolnUSA

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