For many generations, being childless often came with feelings of sadness and regret. Now, with the world becoming more populated and the cost of raising a child more expensive, many are choosing to be childfree.
The word childfree first appeared sometime before 1901. Now however, being voluntarily childless or childfree is a trend that is becoming more popular as some view parenthood with skepticism while considering their life goals or their desire to maintain their freedom and independence. (1)
A study was done by the Wharton School of Business in 2012. It compared the Millennial undergraduates (born between 1981 and 1996) to the Generation X undergraduates (born between 1965-1980). More than half the Millennial undergraduates surveyed did not plan to have children. In 1992, 78% of women undergraduates planned to eventually have children. In 2012, this had dropped to 42%. (2)
Psychologist Ellen Walker argues that the childfree lifestyle has become a trend since 2014. She feels that the internet has enabled adults who don’t want children to connect, thereby making it more visible and consequently more socially acceptable.
REASONS TO REMAIN CHILDFREE
Studies have shown the two most important reasons for women choosing not to have children are that it would infringe on their freedom and that raising children takes too much time and energy. According to Corinne Maier, French author of No Kids: 40 Reasons for Not Having Children, other reasons include:
Research by sociologist Kristin Park revealed that childfree people tend to be better educated, to be professionals, to live in urban areas, to be less religious, and to have less conventional life choices. (3)
New research from psychologists at Michigan State University examines characteristics and satisfaction of adults who don’t want children and how these childfree individuals differ from other nonparents.
According to the researchers, past studies have focused on nonparents which included the ‘not-yet-parents’ who were planning to have kids and ‘childless’ people who couldn’t have kids due to infertility or circumstance. Previous studies simply lumped all nonparents into a single category and did not distinguish voluntarily childless people from the nonparent group.
“…we found no differences in life satisfaction and limited differences in personality traits between childfree individuals and parents, not-yet-parents, or childless individuals,” said Zachary Neal, one of the researchers. “We also found that childfree individuals were more liberal than parents and that people who were not childfree felt substantially less warmth toward childfree individuals.”
This study surprisingly revealed that 25% of the group of 1000 chose to be childfree. This is a much larger percentage than the previously accepted norm of 2-9%. Conducted only in Michigan, it is clear more research needs to be done over a larger demographic area to expand these results. (4)
Many adults are happy they chose childfree lifestyles. Articles expressing personal experiences by childfree adults are numerous. Consider reading Time magazine writer Stephanie Zacharek’s story: Why I Have Zero Regrets About My Childless Life. (5)
- “Life Interests Of Wharton Students”. Work/Life Integration Project. University of Pennsylvania. 2012-11-19. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Park, Kristin (August 2005). “Choosing Childlessness: Weber’s Typology of Action and Motives of the Voluntarily Childless”. Sociological Inquiry. Blackwell Synergy. 75(3): 372–402. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682X.2005.00127.x.
- Jennifer Watling Neal, Zachary P. Neal. Prevalence and characteristics of childfree adults in Michigan (USA). PLOS ONE, 2021; 16 (6): e0252528 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252528