A Quarter of Adults Don't Want Kids

Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images
Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images

No children? No problem.

While having children is often seen as a marker of adulthood, some people just don’t want a gaggle of kids running around. And science says they're doing just fine, thank you very much.

According to a Michigan State University study released today, a quarter of adults say they don’t want children. Researchers say that number is far higher than previous estimates, partly because many previous studies relied on infertility rates to identify child-free populations, thereby leaving out people who simply elected not to reproduce.

“Most studies haven’t asked the questions necessary to distinguish ‘child-free’ individuals—those who choose not to have children—from other types of non-parents,” psychologist Jennifer Walting-Neal said in a release. “Non-parents can also include the ‘not-yet-parents’ who are planning to have kids, and ‘childless’ people who couldn’t have kids due to infertility or circumstance. Previous studies simply lumped all non-parents into a single category to compare them to parents.”

The study, authored by Walting-Neal and psychologist Zachary Neal and published on PLOS ONE, also takes a look at the satisfaction levels and common characteristics of adults who don’t want children. The conclusion? They're no less satisfied than their child-having counterparts.

The study of 1,000 adults in the Michigan area found “no difference in life satisfaction and limited differences” in characteristics between people who don’t want children and parents. But the choice to be child-free is still somewhat stigmatised, especially by proud parents.

“We also found child-free individuals were more liberal than parents, and that people who aren’t child-free felt substantially less warm toward child-free individuals,” Zachary Neal said in the release.

So sure, if you opt not to have kids, you might have to deal with your parents constantly asking when they're getting grandchildren. But otherwise, there's a good chance you’ll be just fine.

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