Why More Women Are Choosing Not to Have Children

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More women are forgoing having children, according to U.S. Census Bureau stats. (Photo: Plume Creative/Getty Images)

More women are opting not to have children than ever before, according to new data released by the U.S Census Bureau. The data, which focused on women ages 15 to 50, show that childlessness continues to be on the rise in the U.S.

Nearly 50 percent of women ages 25 to 29 were childless in 2014. For women ages 30 to 34, 28.9 percent of them were childless in that same year — that’s up from 28.2 percent in 2012. Overall, the data found that nearly half (47.6 percent) of American women ages 15 to 44 did not have children last year, a jump from 46.5 percent back in 2012, according to Time.com.

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There are several possible reasons why birth rates are dropping, including women delaying getting married and having children as their career takes a front seat. The census data found that women ages 40 to 50 in 2014 who were in managerial or professional occupations were more likely to be childless than women of similar age in other occupations.

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Another factor may be the economy — birth rates tend to drop in response to a down economy. The Pew Research Center (PRC) found a decline in fertility that coincided with the 2008 recession. Compared to 2007, which had a record high number of births in the U.S, the fertility rate has dropped significantly from 69.6 births per thousand women ages 15 to 44 to 66.7 births per thousand women ages 15 to 44 in 2009, according to PRC.

In some cases, though, being childless is not a choice. There are couples who want children but may be unable to conceive because of age or health issues and can’t afford — or don’t want to go through —fertility treatments or adoption.

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For others, becoming a parent simply isn’t a calling. “I’ve always known I didn’t want kids,” Kathleen D. tells Yahoo Parenting. “I just never felt the desire. The main reason I don’t want them is because I really value my freedom. I always want to be able to take risks and move wherever I want in the world without having to worry about their school. If my husband and I lose everything, we only have to take care of ourselves.”

For Anne R. and her husband, not having children stemmed from a combination of never feeling ready for kids, as well as focusing on their careers and a passion for traveling at a moment’s notice. “After 11 years of marriage, I feel like I can say, we’re pretty good at being married, but I’m not sure we’d be great parents,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “Now, I’m 35 and my husband is 37, so we kind of faced the decision, and it’s like, wow, we’re really happy and content and a lot of married couples don’t get to say that, so let’s just be okay with it and keep on doing what we’re doing.”

This is a growing trend that Ellen L. Walker, Ph.D., author of Complete Without Kids, sees in her counseling practice: “As a psychologist, I see many young women and men who are taking the decision of whether or not to become a parent as seriously as any other life choice,” Walker tells Yahoo Parenting. “Many are saying that they have other life aspirations that will take front and center in their futures. Others are very concerned about the state of the world, environmental, and world peace issues. They all realize that it’s now totally acceptable to choose a life without kids.”

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