More than 1 in 5 Michigan adults aren’t really interested in becoming parents, a number that initially surprised researchers so much that they repeated the study and found the number who didn’t want kids was essentially the same the second time around.
“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 child-free,” said study co-author Jennifer Watling Neal, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University (MSU).
“Michigan is demographically similar to the United States as a whole, so this could mean 50 million to 60 million Americans are child-free,” she said in a university news release.
The second study used a new sample of 1,000 people who completed MSU’s State of the State Survey. This was conducted by the university’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.
“Many adults are child-free, and there do not seem to be differences by age, education or income,” said study co-author Zachary Neal, an associate professor of psychology at MSU. “However, being child-free is somewhat more common among adults who identify as male, white or who have always been single.”
Although some have expressed concern that childless adults will later regret the decision not to have children, Watling Neal explained: “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.”
Child-free people warrant more attention, particularly as reproductive rights are being eroded, the study authors said.
“States’ restrictions on reproductive health care may result in many people being forced to have children despite not wanting them, which is very concerning,” Neal said.
The findings were published April 5 in PLOS ONE.
The Pew Research Center has more on people without children in the U.S.
SOURCE: Michigan State University, news release, April 5, 2023
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