Growing Research on the Childfree in India

As an author on the childfree choice, I am always keeping the pulse on international trends. Awhile back I posted on the growing numbers of childfree in India. It seems research in this area is growing in this country as well. Most recently, a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai who is looking for research participants contacted me.

First, check out this interesting article in The Times of India.  It discusses the rising population of childless by choice couples in India.  “There was a time was when having a kid – or three – was the norm. And a childless couple, a rarity. If at all there was a pair that didn’t have a kid, friends and family were sure there was, ‘some problem.’ Not anymore. In the new India, people are childless by choice. And the stigma attached to the concept is slowly wearing off.”

The article tells us about Anish and Monisha Palshekar, who decided they do not want to have children.  Like a lot of childfree, it does not mean they do not like children.  For many years Anish has taught street children, and Monisha has worked with women and children in India’s hinterland.

Then there is 45 year old scientist Dipshita Singh, who does not want to bring children into a world that will be tough for children, and the fact that she holds a broader view of family beyond “nuclear” – she sees family as about her husband and parents and his and our brothers and sisters, and their children too.  Dipshita “points to children running around naked in the slums and says, ‘When you don’t have your own children, you feel every child is yours. It’s not something I want to say so I sound good. But my husband and I have been able to reach out to a lot of children.’ For the Singh’s, opting to not have children was a decision taken jointly after they realized that there were too many conflicts one had to tackle in life. ‘We didn’t want someone to come into this world to live that tough life.’ ”

Other childfree in India feel similarly. They feel “the world is just not worthwhile place to bring someone into it. Some state that their own childhood was no fairy tale.”

Another article recently appeared in BBC News India. In it we hear from Indian women who have the childfree choice and why. We also hear from Amrita Nandy, an academic researching the motherhood choice. She has interviewed over fifty women in Delhi who have opted out of the motherhood, and met many more. She says, “Traditionally, motherhood is considered to be the most fulfilling aspect of a woman’s life, but class and education opens up horizons for women to see that there are many more ways of finding meaning and purpose in life.”

The research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences is looking to interview childfree Indian women as well. If you are or someone you know is a married, childfree woman living in India who is interested in being interviewed, please email me, and I will give you contact information!


Original post 2010-Updated 9-2-2014



8 thoughts on “Growing Research on the Childfree in India

  1. Hi Laura,

    Childfree living is still an evolving concept in India. Choosing not to have a child for whatever underlying reasons is an intensely personal choice but in today’s scenario, Indian women need to be prepared to handle raised eyebrows, inquisitive questions, biased judgments and criticisms as well as a phenomenal amount of pressure both from family and society as a whole. In a country which is facing population explosion, it is indeed true that one is expected to have kids by default once one is married. Here is another interesting article about some Indian women who chose to be childfree

    1. Thanks for the article–I have also recently read about India’s offer to go into a lottery to win a car I believe if you get sterilized. My sense is however, that more men and women who already have children (and have a son) are the more likely candidates, but if you know of data that includes those who do not want children electing to do this, I’d love to know about it~L

  2. Yes this has been reported in certain sections of the media although I haven’t personally met anyone yet, who had either heard about this or planning to go for it! Will definitely get back to you if I do come across more info Laura.

  3. Great to read this article. I am worried about the huge population of india and that of the world.

    Surely, this world is not a good place to bring a child into considering the shortage of resources like water, land, food etc. It is predicted that there will be riots and wars over basic human needs like water and food in the near future in india. I think, even today, hundreds of thousands of people in india are dying due to starvation and lead wretched lives. So, it is a good decision not to bring any child into this world.

    So, those couples who bring a child into this world are actually being unfair ( and even cruel ) to the
    child !

  4. I used to have the same viewpoint as Dipshikha that if you(my husband and i are childless)don’t have children, you feel every child is your own and so you try and give love and shower affection on all children (belonging to your brothers, sisters and friends). But I have encountered this weird Indian mindset where parents of these children discourage my association with their children because me and my husband being childless are considered an ill-omen and consequently the children have to be protected from our ‘buri nazar’ (evil eye)!

    1. Wow! I would love to hear more about that~articles I read make it sound like having no children is happening more in India with younger generations, but sure sounds like it has a ways to go until one not seen to have the buri nazar!

  5. I am not at all surprised by this trend. The rise of the middle class has contributed to making couples realise that they do indeed have choices and not having children is one such choice. Also, with a population of over 1.2 billion people, a curb in growth may not be so bad after all.

    1. Hi Nina! A curb in growth not a bad idea indeed! I agree that in any country for that matter, the more people that become educated the more they realize they have a choice with regard to parenthood, and face bucking pronatalist social and cultural norms…

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