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“Women who decided in their teens to be childfree are now, on average, nearly 40 and still do not have children.”

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Are families about to find themselves on the endangered species list? Researchers from Michigan State University find that over one in five adults don’t want children. Interestingly, the survey also indicates that Americans are deciding against being a parent quite early in life, most often in their teens or early twenties.

“We found that 21.6% of adults, or about 1.7 million people, in Michigan do not want children and therefore are ‘childfree.’ That’s more than the population of Michigan’s nine largest cities,” says study co-author Zachary Neal, an associate professor in MSU’s psychology department, in a university release.

Study authors used just three questions to separate “childfree” individuals from parents and other varieties of non-parents. The analyzed data comes from a representative sample of 1,500 adults who completed MSU’s State of the State Survey, conducted by the university’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.

According to Prof. Neal, it’s impossible to distinguish between different types of non-parents using official statistics. So, this research project is among the first to focus specifically on counting adults who choose not to have children (childfree).

“People — especially women — who say they don’t want children are often told they’ll change their mind, but the study found otherwise,” explains study co-author Jennifer Watling Neal, an associate professor in the psychology department at MSU. “People are making the decision to be childfree early in life, most often in their teens and twenties. And, it’s not just young people claiming they don’t want children. Women who decided in their teens to be childfree are now, on average, nearly 40 and still do not have children.”

Over 50 million people want to avoid parenthood

While this study only included Michigan residents, researchers point out that Michigan is actually quite demographically similar to the United States as a whole — according to the 2021 U.S. census. If the trend in this survey holds up across the entire nation, that would mean roughly 50 to 60 million Americans want to stay childfree.

“Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a large number of Americans are now at risk of being forced to have children despite not wanting them,” Prof. Watling Neal concludes.

Study authors add that if the courts overturn further precedents and birth control measures become harder to access across the U.S. it could result in more hurdles for many young women deciding to be childfree.

In conclusion, the research team believe childfree Americans deserve more attention as a growing demographic. They are hopeful that future research projects will do more to better understand why so many Americans are choosing to avoid parenthood, as well as the repercussions of choosing such a lifestyle.

The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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60 Comments

  1. John says:

    You mean “White” women right?

  2. Hu Li Oh says:

    Not withstanding anyone unable to conceive, but being a childless weirdo gets old after a certain # of years. While everyone else is raising a family and you’re still living like you’re 24 it’s not a good look in your 40’s.

    1. Angry 1 says:

      @ HuLiOh: People like you have romanticized the family too much. How many men and women have walked away from their families because they either couldn’t stomach being the primary caregiver anymore, or didn’t have the means to properly take care of their family???? How many parents have worked themselves to death to provide for the children they thought they should have? How many parents have raised stupid, ungrateful children that have turned around and bit the hand that fed them???
      Being a parent sucks. Being the child of abusive parents sucks.

  3. Jesus Christ says:

    It’s pretty simple really. Endless taxation, inflation, and welfare systems continue to punish the hard working middle class. The average cost to raise a child is something like $1M today. And full grown adults in college are being referred to as “kids” and treated as such. The real question here is who does want children and why?

  4. William Lud says:

    Watch the movie “idiocracy” that is where the world is heading

  5. Aranhas says:

    I’m 81. I’ve heard this my entire adult life, at least in the U.S. I left for Asia when I was 19. Got back in the late 1960s and started college. I heard that generation claiming never to have kids because America was a terrible place. I said the same thing. If the left had kept their word, we wouldn’t have the chaos we have today. None of the wackos would have been born. My first kid was a boy. Not planned. My 2nd was a boy. Not planned. My 3rd was a girl. Planned. When I brought my 1st from the hospital my life changed 180 degrees. No more just going to the movies, road trips, bare boating the Caribbean, cheating on my wife – no more. Now I was a father. It took me many months to become a “dad”, but once it happened the magic occurred and I wanted more of it. I was 38 with the first. Best thing I’ve ever done was to be a “dad”. I was a fool to think differently.

  6. Barb says:

    Why would anyone want to bring a child into this world at this time? I knew, for various reasons I never wanted children, I was 12. 60 now, no regrets.

    1. Angry 1 says:

      @Barb: Agreed! Good choice.

  7. Vergilius says:

    My wife and I have had four children and are now retired. We spent a lot of money raising them and sending them to college. They now all have well-paying, full-time jobs. Since their FICA taxes fund the social security payments of people who are now retired, can my wife and I receive higher monthly social security payments than people who purposely chose not to have kids? It seems to me that people who choose not to have children are being socially irresponsible and expect the rest of us who have had children to fund their retirement vicariously through our kids. You chose not to have children? Fine. You’ve saved a lot of money. Why should my kids fund your social security benefits? Let’s have a graduated social security benefit scale based on the number of tax-paying children that you have supplied to benefit our country.

    1. Angry 1 says:

      @Vergilius: People like you make me sick. You think that because I don’t have children I’m a millionaire???? Having children was YOUR choice. Not having children was MY choice.
      I was never a burden on anyone. I worked my entire life supporting myself and over-paying my taxes. If you had money to fritter raising children, why should I be cheated out of my fair share of SS? You want to talk about Social Responsibility??? I paid my taxes. The taxes I paid supported other people’s children. I don’t have a criminal record. I never had children out of wedlock or an STD.
      I worked a total of 48 years to have what I have. Do you think it’s been all fun and games? I do not now nor have I ever had any kind of support group: not parents, siblings, relatives, co-workers, church, State, Government or charity organization. No one has helped me.
      Where was help for me when I went hungry, or couldn’t pay my bills, or broke my ankle, or was without a hot water heater for 5 months (from late September to the middle of February), or had no refrigerator for two years?????
      Fck you and the dog you rode in on.

  8. Kenyon says:

    children born to mature people are often very welcome , women and men can have children anytime . the best time is when they are mature adults

  9. Steeevyo says:

    People who don’t contribute to the future by providing offspring should be punitively taxed and those who have children should receive massive tax breaks that are financed by the punitive taxes the leeches, parasites and non-contributors have to cough up.

    1. Angry 1 says:

      @ Steeevyo: “People who don’t contribute to the future by providing offspring…..”

      Are you some kind of retard??? We have no future. Neither do those kids you’re shatting out. The world is so overpopulated now that resources are running out. There are billions of people on this planet. The elites are trying to kill us off as it is. If they can’t poison us with that phony Covid “vaccine” or Monkeypox then they’ll starve us to death. Even as we speak, farmers are being told to plow under their crops and slaughter their cattle. You and your kids are going to starve along with us people who never had children. At least I won’t have to watch my children suffer.

    2. Roxanne says:

      What about the property taxes child-free people pay for decades that help pay for schools that they don’t use (because they don’t have children), all the social programs for children, tax credits for children (which means a person with children is paying less taxes than those without children)? Child free people are paying for your kids their whole lives so get off your high horse.

  10. Craig Purcell says:

    Children are a blessing and keep things fresh and spontaneous. It’s a shame the culture of the cool people don’t welcome the babies.

  11. Jack says:

    Just ask the Chinese CC P what it costs a country, when they limit married couples to one child.
    They may be forced to make a premature move to become the dominate world power.
    If they wait another generation, they will not have enough young men to fight!

    1. Angry 1 says:

      @Jack: The CCP slaughtered the female babies. Their culture places importance on sons who can carry on the family name. What crap. Now there’s 30 million men who can’t find wives.
      They work at their jobs or on their farms alone, and take care of their elderly parents.
      Women (and children) have always been treated like cattle. Sold and bought. Not just in China but all over the world. They were used as bargaining chips to seal agreements, or sold to houses of prostitution to pay off debts.
      No wonder women rebelled and burned their bras.

  12. Tmcgoe says:

    This is good news… these people are leftist democrats. That they are not reproducing is fantastic and a real positive for American society.

    1. jep jep says:

      I loved my children enough not to bring them into this world full of vitriol and hate thanks to Cons…the party of division, oppression and totalitarianism.

      1. Angry 1 says:

        @jep jep: You have God-given wisdom.

        Luke 23:29
        For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

  13. Eric Mclaughlin says:

    This is more the white people I think. In Texas Spanish have a birthrate of 9 times the white birthrate.

  14. Angry 1 says:

    @Karl: Agreed!