With the birthrate in the U.S. at its lowest in recorded history, Time magazine’s August issue examines the trend and asks if childlessness is something Americans should worry about.
The issue cites a study from Pew Research, which reports that from 2007 to 2011, the American fertility rate declined 9 percent, and that one in five American women end their childbearing years maternity-free, whereas that number was one in 10 in the 1970s.
The magazine’s cover features a couple on the beach and reads, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children.” Articles in the magazine explore whether not having children is selfish, talk about people who do not want to have children, and question if children bring happiness or misery for parents.
“Evolutionary psychologists tell us that wanting offspring is hardwired, but for most of us, the decision to have a child is intensely personal — and has become all the more daunting in recent years thanks to several high-profile research studies that have suggested that parents are miserable and stretched to the limit,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky in her article, “Do Children Bring Happiness—or Misery?”
Other articles explore people’s motives for not having children, striving to squash the idea that women don’t give birth for selfish reasons.
“The idea that women don’t have babies because they are ‘selfish’ is not only reductive, in so many cases, it is simply incorrect,” said Carolina A. Miranda in her article, “Childfree Adults Are Not ‘Selfish.’ ” “My husband and I chose not to have children for myriad reasons. I’d say selfishness is not among them. First and foremost, neither of us was ever keen on the kid thing. I’ve never felt a desire to get pregnant or give birth. If I have a biological clock, it’s on mute.”
The Times ideas included a poll, asking if people were concerned about more Americans not having children, in which more than half said, “We’ll adjust.”
The poll consisted of five questions and had the following results:
- Do you think people are "selfish" for choosing to not have children?
- yes, 8.24 percent
- no, 91.76 percent
- Are women without kids being left out of the conversation about careers and work-life balance?
- yes, 56.53 percent
- no, 43.47 percent
- Does having kids bring you
- happiness, 25.71 percent
- unhappiness, 37.25 percent
- less happiness in the short term but more fulfillment in the long term, 37.04 percent
- Is the declining birth rate
- good for American society, 33.36 percent
- bad for American society, 12.12 percent
- neither, we'll adjust, 55 percent
- Should people without kids be given tax breaks and workplace leave to make up for benefits given to parents?
- yes, 66.56 percent
- no, 33.44 percent
Another study released on Mail Online revealed that “cleverer women [are] more likely to choose not to have a family.” The article written by Ruth Styles says that a woman’s desire to have children decreases by a quarter for every 15 extra IQ points.
But some are fighting back against the childless trend. The South Korean government organizes matchmaking events to combat the country’s low birthrate.
“In a country where arranged courtships are fading into the past, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began promoting the idea of dating parties in 2010,” wrote Su-Hyun Lee in the New York Times article, “Mom Wants You Married? So Does the State.” “Under the enthusiastic leadership of its minister at the time, Cheon Jae-hee, it held four parties that year that brought together its workers and employees at local corporations — making a splash in the news media. Ms. Cheon officiated at the wedding of the first couple who met at one. Featured in a magazine article before the wedding, the 31-year-old groom-to-be thanked the government profusely and wondered if two children would be enough to meet expectations.”
Commentators on Time’s website have mixed views about the value of having or not having children.
"It's purely personal choice, an agreement between you and your partner,” said roamingmind2001, a commentator on Time’s website. “Whether you choose to have children or not, you shouldn't judge others who make the different [choice].”