- A quarter of adults say they don’t want children, a nationally representative Michigan study showed.
- Parents and non-parents for any reason have similar personalities and life satisfaction levels.
- Recognizing non-parents for choice as a significant part of the population helps fight stigma.
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More than a quarter of Michigan adults don’t want children – and they’re just as happy with their lives as their parents, the study published Wednesday in the newspaper Plos One found.
The study also found almost no personality differences between parents and people who are voluntarily childless.
The results suggest that the population to choose from is much larger than what previous research has estimated, and should not be overlooked in society or by scientists.
The study found that parents and nonparents for any reason have more similarities than differences
To conduct the study, Michigan State University psychologists studied 1,000 adults who were representative of the state’s population in terms of gender, age, race, and education. (Michigan’s population, in turn, closely represents the country’s population when it comes to race, age, income, and education, the researchers noted.)
Unlike most past research that brought together all nonparents, the study authors asked participants about their parenting plans and their desires to distinguish between four types of people: Parents, people who they are free of children by choice, people who want or want children but can’t have them, and people who want children in the end.
Researchers also assessed participants ’life satisfaction, political ideology, personality, and warmth toward children-free people. Finally, participants were asked about their gender, race, education, age, and relationship status to see how those characteristics influenced parenting plans.
They found that 27% of adults were nonparent volunteers – a percentage who do not research estimates went from 2% to 9%. While fewer people choose paternity today, MSU psychologists say the gap in estimates is more likely to reflect stronger research methods. Past studies have largely only surveyed women, relied on fertility rates, or been unrepresentative.
The study also found that no parent group – even those who were free of children due to circumstances, such as infertility – had significantly better or worse life satisfaction. And, it showed just one of the “big five” different personality traits between parents and nonparents: People without children to choose from were fewer. pleasant, a trait that presents itself as kind and cooperative, than parenting.
Parents and free people of children differ in political ideology and warmth towards non-parents
A larger difference was seen in political ideology: People who did not want children tended to be liberal, found the study, and often chose against kinship to promote more equal gender roles or to concern for the environment.
Meanwhile, parents tend to feel less warm toward nonparents than parents feel toward each other, an indication that people without children are always seen as a “group,” they say. authors of the study, despite its prevalence.
That attitude “may have real effects,” they write, “for example, limiting the ability of childless individuals to demand the same life-balance system offered to parents.”
Fertility rates will decline, reaching an all-time low in 2020
Birth rates in the United States have been on the rise firm farm for decades, with 2019 seeing the lowest number of births in 35 years. After, 2020 has claimed this title as the pandemic cut off financial resources, severed partnerships, dismantled support systems, and introduced some fertility treatments.
The current study, which was conducted in spring 2020, could reflect this and show a higher number of nonparent volunteers than under normal circumstances. However, the rate is in line with a Pew pre-pandemic study asking people under the age of 50 if they have ever expected to have children.
MSU psychologists have called for more research on people without children to choose from, particularly as to when and how they make this decision.