Fewer Married American Women Are Having Children

Saturday, December 14, 2013
(photo: Patricia McDonnell, AP)

Most married women in the United States have children, but a growing number of them are choosing not to have kids, a new study shows.


Among married women ages 40 to 44, about 6% had no children of any kind (biological, adopted or step kids) from 2006 to 2010, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, which examined figures from the National Survey of Family Growth.


Six percent may not sound like a big number, but experts told the Los Angeles Times that the figure was still significant, statistically speaking, given that the rate was only 4.5% in 1988.


“There's a resistance to parenthood being the default after marriage,” Laura S. Scott, director of the Childless by Choice Project, told the Times. “People are questioning it in ways that they didn't perhaps 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.”


Another study published in 2010 by the Pew Research Center echoed this sentiment. It showed that Americans ranked love, lifelong commitment and companionship higher than having children as reasons to get married.


“We’ve moved away from the idea that the sole or even the primary purpose of marriage is to produce offspring,” Debra Mollen, associate professor of psychology at Texas Woman's University, told the newspaper. Instead, “we want someone to share our lives with.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

More Married Women are Not Having Children, U.S. Study Finds (by Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times)

Most Women Who Give Birth Before 25 Are Unmarried (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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