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The new normal: Childfree by choice or childless by circumstance.


International Women’s Day is coming up on Sunday, 8th of March!

 If it were up to me, everyday would be women’s day. Although it’s officially held only once a year as a universal celebration of all women in all shapes, sizes across all countries working in all kinds of jobs or studying in all sorts of schools married to all kinds of individuals and mothers to all kinds of children…..?

Let’s talk about women and their choice (or not) to reproduce.

While most women still crave the traditional trajectory of marriage and children, a record-high number of females are choosing a childless lifestyle. In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey reported that 47.6% of women between ages of 15 and 44 had never had children, up from 46.5% in 2012. This represents the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau started tracking such data in 1976. 

Millennial women, in particular, are forgoing motherhood. In fact, nearly half of women in their 20s are childless. By age 35 nearly 30% remain so. Back in 2013, there were approximately 62 births for every 1,000 women in the USA which was an all-time-low. Since then, numbers have declined further and this is a trend which has extended beyond the United States. Japan and Germany both gave low birth rates, despite being first-world nations, and Nordic countries have also seen a steep decline in birth rates in recent years. 

Clearly, there are many reasons for this.

Some women, like myself, are childfree by choice due to an utter lack of maternal instincts. Some women feel that they are better childfree and benefit society by focusing on studies, careers, and charitable endeavors rather than children. Certainly, unless one truly wants children—and is able to support and care for them—one shouldn’t feel pressured by society to marry and bear offspring simply because that’s the most traditional role of females in most societies. 

In fact, unless you truly want to be a mom, you are better off forgoing motherhood. Few fates are crueler than those of children born to disinterested, resentful, and/or outright unloving parents. 

Many mothers will openly admit that parenting is the toughest job in the world, but also the most wonderful and rewarding. Women who feel this way, those who are drawn to parenthood, are the backbone of society and they deserve boundless respect. That said, women who recognize that parenthood isn’t for them, and find other constructive ways to fulfill their lives and benefit society, are also making a wise and very respectable decision. 

The tragedy of the declining birth rates is that many women are forced to make this decision not due to a lack of wanting children, but due to a lack of resources. The cost of housing, food, clothes, and healthcare (for those who are lucky enough to even have access to medical care) has skyrocketed over the past two decades. Americans who attended a four-year college (or beyond) are so bogged down with student loan debt (which cannot be written off or forgiven, even in the case of bankruptcy) that they may be unable to get mortgages, credit cards, or additional loans. Many will be paying off the debt into their sixties. Due to a dearth of jobs—even with a university education—maybe people have difficulty affording cars, gas, and automobile insurance. In most parts of America, and the world, public transportation is not fully reliable, or accessible, so without a car one is left at an extreme disadvantage making it even harder to find employment. 

These realities mean that it is now easier than ever for formally middle-class people to fall into poverty and homelessness; a cycle that is almost impossible to escape from.In 2019, the Business Insider reported that the middle class is declining across the board but millennials, who are now of traditionally “ideal” childbearing age, have been hit particularly hard by this economic squeeze. In 2009, the global market crashed leading to the worst recession since the 1920s. The recovery has been slow leaving many people, especially young people, in a lurch of high debt, low funds, a lot of education, yet very few job, housing, and healthcare opportunities (to say nothing of the utter lack of retirement funds/savings).

For millions of women across the globe, the decision not to have children is purely due to a lack of resources.

This is an agonizing reality to face given that the desire to have children can be an extraordinarily strong biological drive and, when denied, it can lead to feelings of deep depression, hopelessness, and emptiness. On the other hand, few things are as horrifying as the struggle to raise a child with few resources or opportunities. It is a familiar scenario in modern life with little to no foreseeable resolutions. 

For women like myself, the decision to remain childfree was easy and made without feelings of loss or regret; for the majority of women it’s an awful choice born of terrible circumstances. Increasing concerns about global warming, the continued disparity of wealth, and the number of people on earth who are already suffering from these issues suggests that the trend of low-birth-rates will continue, and probably increase, in the coming decades. 

Read this too: Positivity and Endurance has no Age Limit.

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