Journal Article

Masculinity, money, and the postponement of parenthood in Nigeria

In southeastern Nigeria, several interconnected processes of social change are combining to delay parenthood. Most of the demographic and social sciences literature examining the postponement of parenthood has paid primary attention to women. To address this gap, this article foregrounds the changing social landscape of masculinity as a significant context within which to situate these demographic changes. At the core of Nigerian men’s perceptions, decisions, and behaviors with regard to delaying fatherhood is a fundamental contradiction, one that seems to be common in many settings—at least many African settings—of contemporary demographic transition. The contradiction is that while the postponement of parenthood is associated historically with positive social and economic indicators, when Nigerian men articulate their rationales for delaying fatherhood (and marriage) they commonly describe feelings of uncertainty connected to a sense of struggle and deprivation. This article connects men’s anxieties about—and delays embarking on—marriage and parenthood to their experiences of economic uncertainty, and specifically to the perceived need for money as the foundation for successful reproduction.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.