New Childlessness Stats--Down in One Area

childlessPew Research Center just released a report on women without children based on some new census figures from 2006-2008. The U.S. Census has been tracking “childlessness” (the term they use in their research) figures for some time now. However, it does not track the choice factor—whether a woman does not have children by choice or circumstance. The report indicates that of women aged 40-44, 18% did not have children. This figure is about the same at it was in 2006--20%. In the year 2000--19%. Generally, in the last ten years, it has hovered around one in five women ages 40-44 not having children.

The National Survey on Family Growth (NSFG) has tracked the choice factor. Its last report published in 2005 with data from 2002 indicated that of women between the ages 15-44, just over 6% described themselves as voluntarily childless. Another report is due out later in the year with data from the years 2006-2008. It will have the large same age range so will have the same issue when interpreting the data. The NSFG has told me that the new numbers will likely be about the same, at six percent.

Researchers Joyce Abma and Gladys Martinez at the National Center for Health Statistics got more specific about looking at the volunatry and involuntary choice. They took 2002 National Survey of Family Growth data further, focused on women aged 35-44, and found that there were equal numbers of 40-44 women who are childless by choice and those who would like children but cannot have them: 6% were voluntarily childless, 6% involuntarily childless and 2% temporarily childless.

Back to the Pew study--one of the most interesting findings is that of women ages 40-44 with a bachelor's degree, there has been essentially no change in the likelihood of being childless. But childllessness rates "have declined among women with advanced degrees -- by 17% for those with master's degrees and 32% for those with doctorates or professional degrees."

The study reveals that the most educated women remain the most likely to have have children, but there seems to be a trend in 2006-08 of women with higher degrees to to start having them. In 1994, 31% of 40-44 women with higher and professional degrees had no children; 2006-08 figures indicate that 24% of women this age and educational level had no children.

Another interesting finding is that the racial gap has narrowed. While white women remain more likely not to have a child, over the past decade, childless rates have risen more rapidly for black, Hispanic and Asian women.

So overall it is still on the rise, except the trend in one area of 40-44 aged women with advanced degrees--An interesting trend to follow to be sure. 


Families of Two




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