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?