No Nest? The Growth of Childlessness in America

Sandra M. Florian, University of Southern California

Changes in family formation reveal a decreased centrality of childbearing in Americans’ lives in the recent decades. Yet, few scholars have focused on the factors associated with childlessness for recent cohorts of women. Similarly, due to scarcity of data, few studies analyze changes in childlessness over time. In this paper we examine childlessness using recent data from the NSFG. Our purpose is to describe the childless population, identify the factors associated with childlessness, and analyze how these associations have changed over time. Our preliminary results indicate that among recent cohorts of women ages 35-44, 16.4% were childless; however 48.4% of them reported a desire to have at least one child, implying that nearly half of them are involuntarily childless. Compared with mothers, childless women are better educated and more likely to be employed. This study sheds new light in the recent contextual factors associated with childlessness among American women.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 6