Child-free generation? 1 in 4 young adults already ruling out having kids

LONDON — Only half of Gen Z and millennial adults plan to start a family, as financial pressures and global anxieties continue to deter young adults from having children, a new survey reveals. The research, which polled 1,000 British adults between 18 and 34 who haven’t yet started a family, also found that one in four respondents have already decided against having a baby ever.

Only 55 percent of participants say they plan to have children in the future, while 20 percent are unsure. The most common reason, given by 49 percent of respondents, was their desire to focus more on themselves. Financial issues followed closely, cited by 47 percent, and fears about the state of the world were raised by 38 percent of the participants.

Environmental concerns associated with having children troubled 35 percent of respondents, while career aspirations and existing health issues influenced the decision of 28 and 22 percent of young adults, respectively.

Despite these findings, 71 percent of young adults felt societal pressure to have children, with 40 percent experiencing this pressure directly from family members. Mothers (68%) were the most likely to apply this pressure, followed by grandmothers and fathers.

“For generations, having children has just been the done thing, but it seems younger people are now deciding against this more and more,” a spokesperson for research agency OnePoll, which commissioned the study, says in a statement.

“Not only are finances squeezed more than ever, but young adults are becoming more aware of the impact on society and the environment. But the societal expectation is still there, and for most people once they’re in a relationship, they can expect people to be asking them about children.”

Couple on a date at restaurant
(© Nejron Photo –

The study also found that fewer than half (49%) of all those surveyed believe that having children is important for personal fulfillment. Additionally, even those who intend to have children don’t plan to have more than two. The reason, given by 56 percent of these respondents, was general financial constraints, which deterred them from wanting a larger family.

Over four in 10 (43%) expressed concern that they wouldn’t have enough time to provide ample attention to many children. Moreover, 27 percent were worried about environmental concerns, such as resource usage and climate impact.

Young adults reported the ideal age for having children to be 28. They were 28 percent “somewhat or a lot more likely” to start families if the government provided 30 hours of universally free childcare to all children under five. Nearly a fifth (19%) were “very concerned” about the potential impact of having children on their career, with men showing slightly more concern than women.

Among those who wish to have children, 76 percent anticipate the joy and love that comes with raising a child, and 51 percent want to fulfill a sense of purpose. Meanwhile, 26 percent are looking to children as a source of support and companionship in their old age.

“There are myriad reasons why someone may decide to have children, the OnePoll spokesperson adds. “But on the other hand, there are just as many – equally valid – reasons to not want to pass down your DNA. Young adults should feel empowered to make their own decisions, and also it’s important to be flexible and realize that things in life can change. Someone may decide at 25 they never want to have children, then change their mind at 35 – which is perfectly fine.”

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South West News Service writer Gemma Francis contributed to this report.

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