Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our Growing Piece of the Pie


Thanks to my readers Nancy and Susan for forwarding me information recently released by the Pew Research Center showing that childlessness is on the increase among women. You can read the article here.

Pew found that currently 20% of women end their childbearing years without ever bearing a child and this is up from 10% in the 1970s. While this research does not break down the percentages by childfree by choice versus childless (not by choice), I think we can safely draw the conclusion that much of this increase is due to more and more women choosing to forego having children.

I think we childfree can find encouragement in this trend as it indicates that our lifestyle is slowly but surely becoming normalized. The more people that choose the childfree lifestyle, the more normal our lifestyle becomes and the less marginalized and stigmatized the childfree will be. My hope is that eventually, stating that one is childfree will be as inconsequential as stating a preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla.

Having said this, we are still in the minority - 80% of women DO bear children - and there is still a good deal of stigma attached to people (especially women) who choose not to have kids. We experience this stigma in our everyday lives, from the shock and disbelief we get when we announce we are childfree, to the scornful emails I get from parents who think I am the antichrist for promoting the idea that a life sans children can be a wonderful thing.

How do you feel about the research? Does it make you feel encouraged, discouraged or something else?



10 comments:

Sharonkay said...

Hello from Sharon:

I have been reading your blog a lot over the last few days and recently subscribed to your blog. I am a childfree 47yr old African American woman. I am happy to hear that more women are deciding not to have kids. Like yourself, I have nieces and nephews and recently I became a great aunt. I don't hate kids. In fact, I've always liked babies, but I have noticed that in the last 10 or so years, kids have become less well behaved and very spoiled. There has been a lot of pressure in my (Black ) community to have a child. I never really wanted kids once I reached my 30's because it seems to be a lot of trouble and expense. I ma also a Christian who doesn't believe in having kids out of wedlock. On my last job back in 2004, I had some idiot woman suggest to me that I should have a child, even though I was well into my 40's! I am sure that you know that the risk of having a Downs Syndrome baby goes WAY UP after you reach 40. I told her that I wasn't interested in having kids and that I was content with my life the way it is. I have a part time business as a silk artist making hand painted silk scarves and wraps. This is something I enjoy a whole lot and having a child would ruin my business. I think that she was secretly jealous of me because she had 2 kids out of wedlock in her late 30's! I just try to ignore stupid people like her because it is she who is the miserable one and not me. Anyway, keep up the good work.

Sharonkay said...

I just wanted to say that this is good news for us childfree ladies. You have a choice on whether or not to have kids.

Allison said...

This is great news! It can feel like such a smaller slice some days!

Amy Guskin said...

Wow, this is very encouraging. I think the figures mean that childfree-by-choice is WAY up, because you have to also factor in advances in infertility science, and the women who wouldn't have been able to have a child in the 70s (and whose counterparts are now benefitting from those technologies). Right on, us! :-)

Deborah said...

It's interesting to see the statistics. Personally, they don't make me feel anything in particular, only because whether the childfree represent one percent or ninety-nine percent of the population, my choice wouldn't change. I do believe the numbers will grow, though; it feels like almost every day I'm talking with other women (often younger than myself) who've tapped the childfree secret. I find this very exciting! =)

I'm so sorry to hear you're on the receiving end of abusive emails, ugh. There's only one thing that would motivate those parents to criticize you. It starts with a "j" and has a "lousy" ending...

Thanks for the post!

Almost Alright said...

I find it encouraging, not because I care how many people make the same choice as I do about having children (which I don't), but because I think it helps send a strong message.

I think this country has social policies which makes having children difficult without sacrificing your career and your financial security to do it. Because (some) women find it so important to have children (because of social pressure), they take on all the costs of having children by themselves.

I'm glad to see more women making the decision that unless it makes financial sense to have children, they aren't going to shoulder the costs of childbearing on their own.

I think we should have a baby boycott until the government, employers and (male) spouses make it possible for women to do so without giving up their lives!

I hope this is a step in that direction.

lauracarroll said...

Author of Families of Two here..I am pleased to see the research, but still feel knowing about the choice factor is sorely lacking. The National Survey on Family Growth(NSFG) has tracked the choice factor. Its last report published in 2005 with data from 2002 indicated that of women between the ages 15-44, just over 6% described themselves as voluntarily childless. A breakdown by more definitive age groups would tell us much more. For example, a 15 year old, 25 year old, even these days a 30 year old, saying she is voluntarily childless is different than a 44 year old. Another report is due out later in the year with data from the years 2006-2008. It will have the large same age range so will have the same issue when interpreting the data. The NSFG has told me that the new numbers will likely be about the same, at six percent.

Researchers Joyce Abma and Gladys Martinez at the National Center for Health Statistics took NSFGrowth data further, and focused on women aged 35-44.They found that there were equal numbers of 40-44 women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them: 6% were voluntarily childless, 6% involuntarily childless and 2% temporarily childless. We need more current studies like this

Check out the report--there are interesting trends on women 40-44 with advanced degrees and increases on the racial channels.. ~Laura http://lairacarroll.com

lauracarroll said...

Author of Families of Two here..I am pleased to see the research, but still feel knowing about the choice factor is sorely lacking. The National Survey on Family Growth(NSFG) has tracked the choice factor. Its last report published in 2005 with data from 2002 indicated that of women between the ages 15-44, just over 6% described themselves as voluntarily childless. A breakdown by more definitive age groups would tell us much more. For example, a 15 year old, 25 year old, even these days a 30 year old, saying she is voluntarily childless is different than a 44 year old. Another report is due out later in the year with data from the years 2006-2008. It will have the large same age range so will have the same issue when interpreting the data. The NSFG has told me that the new numbers will likely be about the same, at six percent.

Researchers Joyce Abma and Gladys Martinez at the National Center for Health Statistics took NSFGrowth data further, and focused on women aged 35-44.They found that there were equal numbers of 40-44 women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them: 6% were voluntarily childless, 6% involuntarily childless and 2% temporarily childless. We need more current studies like this

Check out the report--there are interesting trends on women 40-44 with advanced degrees and increases on the racial channels.. ~Laura http://lauracarroll.com

CFVixen said...

I do think childfreedom is becoming a little more common. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be in my area! It's so good to have blogs like this available so that you can meet up with like-minded individuals.

Stash said...

Honestly I wish more women were smart enough to WAIT and really decide if it is the road they want to go down. I know plenty of women who shouldn't be mothers. My auntys are incredibly lazy, overweight and living off welfare and disability and two of them had kids and ditched them with my grandma and other aunty! So I have cousins who were never even raised by their own mom and my mom, who is a saint by the way, worked her ass off for her two daughter and now that we are in our late 20's she gets the added bonus of taking care of my grandmother because my auntys are too fat and lazy! This infuriates me and I know that I will gladly take in my mom when the time comes and I will spoil her. My auntys are so damn lazy... they have like 5 kids each jeez. Sorry just had to vent.