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The no-baby boom: The increase in “social” childlessness

A recent article in Macleans magazine by Anne Kingston profiled the growing number of women who aren’t having children. Recent statistics show that one out of five women in the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, and Australia are still childless into their mid-40s – twice as many as a generation ago. According to Jody Day, creator of, this growing group is largely misunderstood:

We think there is a room called childlessness with two doors: ‘didn’t want’ or ‘can’t have’…But there are many ways to end up not being a mother.”

The article cites “social infertility” as a primary reason for the increasing numbers of permanently childless women.  Although these women expected that they would have children, many end up childless because they haven’t been able to find the right partner with whom to parent, or they are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want kids, or who already has children and isn’t interested in having any more.

Kingston argues that childlessness isn’t only a personal issue, but a social one. When women are unable to become mothers, they are left to confront how much of female identity and belonging is tied to motherhood. According to Day: 

“Women without children not only lose a future family…but can lose their peer group who have moved to a country called motherhood where we don’t speak the language.”

The experts cited in Kingston’s article also stress that a shift is needed beyond viewing this group of childless women with pity or judgment. Melanie Notkin, a woman without children who created, uses the term “circumstantial infertility” to describe the process that requires women to adjust their expectations around motherhood. Speaking of her own process of coming to terms with, and accepting her childlessness, Notkin takes a more empowered stance:

“While it’s not the life I expected, it’s the life that I directed.”

Read the article here.

Read more about this issue here. 

To read more about living child-free, click here and here. 

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