Social Indicators Research

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 391–404 | Cite as

The Incompatibility of Materialism and the Desire for Children: Psychological Insights into the Fertility Discrepancy Among Modern Countries

  • Norman P. LiEmail author
  • Lily Patel
  • Daniel Balliet
  • William Tov
  • Christie N. Scollon


We examined factors related to attitudes toward marriage and the importance of having children in both the US and Singapore. Path analysis indicated that life dissatisfaction leads to materialism, and both of these factors lead to favorable attitudes toward marriage, which leads to greater desire for children. Further analysis indicated this model was effective in explaining the difference in desire for children between Singaporeans and Americans, whereby Singaporeans have lower life satisfaction, higher materialism, and lower attitudes toward marriage and children. Materialistic standards of success were also related to the emphasis women placed on potential marriage partners’ earning capacity. As Singaporean women had higher materialistic standards, they also placed higher emphasis on potential mates’ earning capacity. Results suggest a consideration of psychological variables such as life satisfaction, materialism, and mate preferences may lead to a better understanding of larger-scale socioeconomic issues, including low fertility rates among developed East Asian countries.


Materialism Life satisfaction Mate preferences Marriage Children Cross-cultural 



This research was supported by Singapore Management University research grant #MSS8S017.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman P. Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lily Patel
    • 2
  • Daniel Balliet
    • 1
  • William Tov
    • 1
  • Christie N. Scollon
    • 1
  1. 1.Singapore Management UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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