Brace for incoming cultural panic! The L.A. Times reports that, according to the latest numbers, childless married women are becoming more common—at least a little bit, anyway. And it may very well be due to our changing attitudes about marriage.
That's according to new analysis from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, at Bowling Green State University. Researchers found:
The percentage of married women ages 40 to 44 who had no biological children and no other kids in the household, such as adopted children or stepkids, reached 6% in the period from 2006 to 2010. That's a small but statistically significant jump since 1988, when only 4.5% of married women had no kids.
Of course, just because women in their early 40s don't have kids doesn't mean they definitely won't. The majority of women without children do remain unmarried, and there's no way to tell how many of the 6 percent are childfree by choice.
But the Times points out that—the fertility cult of the celebrity pregnancy notwithstanding—more Americans do seem to feel comfortable skipping kids. Laura S. Scott, the director of the Childless by Choice Project, informed the Times that, "There's a resistance to parenthood being the default after marriage," and "People are questioning it in ways that they didn't perhaps 30 or 40 or 50 years ago."
That's thanks in no small part to the ways we're rethinking the point of marriage, says Texas Women's University associate psych prof Debra Mollen: "We've moved away from the idea that the sole or even the primary purpose of marriage is to produce offspring."
In other words, we're increasingly looking for companions—not necessarily coparents.
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