New research confirms a past finding: one in five Michigan adults don’t want children and are therefore are childfree.
“We found that 20.9% of adults in Michigan do not want children, which closely matches our earlier estimate of 21.6%, and means that over 1.6 million people in Michigan are childfree,” says Jennifer Watling Neal, professor of psychology at Michigan State University and coauthor of the study.
“Michigan is demographically similar to the United States, so this could mean 50 million to 60 million Americans are child-free.”
The new study in PLOS ONE attempts to replicate the original study by using the same methods, but with a new sample of people. The researchers used data from a representative sample of 1,000 adults who completed the university’s State of the State Survey, conducted by the university’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. To avoid any risk of cherry-picking results, the researchers preregistered the study by recording in advance exactly how the study would be conducted and what they expected to find.
“Many adults are childfree, and there do not seem to be differences by age, education, or income,” says Zachary Neal, associate professor of psychology at and coauthor of the study. “However, being childfree is somewhat more common among adults who identify as male, white, or who have always been single.”
Some express concern that childfree adults will regret the decision not to have children, especially later in life. But Watling Neal explains “we found no evidence that older child-free adults experience any more life regret than older parents. In fact, older parents were slightly more likely to want to change something about their life.”
Because so many people are childfree, the researchers say this group warrants more attention, particularly as reproductive rights are being eroded.
“States’ restrictions on reproductive health care may result in many people being forced to have children despite not wanting them, which is very concerning,” Watling Neal says.
The research team is now examining whether abortion restrictions affect adults’ choice to be childfree and are expanding their work beyond Michigan to include other states and countries.
Source: Michigan State University