Time Magazine's cover story The Child Free Life has garnered a lot of attention. It covers the trend of declining birth rates and the growing numbers of childless adults.
It's hardly the only recent popular media story on this topic. Newsweek's Where Have All the Baby's Gone covered the same ground earlier this year. So did CBS News, which provided the clip below on being childless by choice.
The Childless by Choice Project has long chronicled this trend, and they have a book and documentary about it. Based on their survey, the top 6 motivations for not having children are:
1) I love our life, our relationship, as it is, and having a child won't enhance it.
2) I value freedom and independence.
3) I do not want to take on the responsibility of raising a child.
4) I have no desire to have a child, no maternal/paternal instinct.
5) I want to accomplish/experience things in life that would be difficult to do if I was a parent.
6) I want to focus my time and energy on my own interests, needs, or goals.
One of the interesting data points we've noticed in our research on independent workers (freelancers, self-employed, etc.) is they appear to be less likely to have children than the average American. This somewhat counter intuitive finding seems to hold across ages and gender.
Because we weren't looking to study this issue, our data on this topic is not detailed nor deep enough to draw firm conclusions. Also, our data on this topic is for independent workers who work at least half-time (15+ hours per week). We don't have any child related data on independents working less than 15 hours per week.
But there are definitely parallels between the motivations of the childless and the motivations of independent workers. Both groups value freedom, independence and flexibility. They also both share an interest in broad and varied experiences and are concerned about potential life/work style constraints.
These shared motivations and attitudes could explain why independents appear less likely to have kids.
More research needs to be done on this topic. We're going to do some additional digging on this in the coming months.