Pew Research

Recent Pew Research & a Look Back at Wharton School Study

A recent Pew Research Center survey with 4581 respondents has interesting results for those with no children:

-37% of respondents under 50 years old with no children “say they don’t ever expect to become parents.”

-23% of respondents under 50 years old with no children “say they’re unlikely to have children in the future because they just don’t want to.” 

-3 in 10 of respondents under 40 with no children “say they are unlikely to become parents someday.”

This survey brought to mind…

Reading about the survey brought to mind the 2013 book, Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family by Stewart Friedman. This book summarizes a cross-generational study of college students that produced a “stark discovery: the rate of graduates who plan to have children has dropped by nearly half over the past 20 years.”

Conducted by the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the study surveyed 496 members of the 1992 Wharton undergraduate class, then 307 of the 2012 graduating class.

When the 2012 grads were asked, “Do you plan to have children?”:

-41% of women said yes, 14% said probably, and 27% said probably not or no.
-42% of men said yes, 12% said probably, 30% said probably not or no.

In 2012, we can assume that many or most of the grads were in their early 20s, and would now be in their late 20s/possibly early 30s, so under 40.

I find it interesting that in the Pew Research survey, 3 in 10 (30%) under 40 responded that they are unlikely to become parents someday, and for the 2012 grads in the Wharton study, it is about the same: about 3 in 10 (27% for women and 30% for men) responded “probably not or no.”

In the Wharton study, the ‘probably not or no’ respondents were not given a chance to answer questions directly related to their level of desire to become parents. This recent Pew survey allowed for answers to clearly state because respondents just did not want to have them.

The longitudinal nature of the Wharton study is also very informative. I wish we could continue to track the 2012 grads as well as the under-40-year-olds in the recent Pew survey for a longitudinal look at their reproductive lives. 

A Longitudinal Look

A longitudinal look at how reproductive lives evolve over time is just what I have been doing for the last nine years. I have been conducting a 10-year study with over 25 women who at the outset identified themselves as childfree. With one more year to go, I have to say this first-of-its-kind study has been an incredible research project with amazing women. I look forward to sharing its results!