he number of adults who do not have kids, and do not think they will ever have kids, is growing.
Why is this happening? How do these adults feel about the prospect of never having kids? Decades of survey data offer some answers.
Will You Ever Have Kids? The Men and Women Who Say It Is Not Likely
Toward the end of 2021, the Pew Research Center surveyed adults in the U.S., ages 18 through 49, who did not already have children and asked them how likely it was that they would ever have children. A similar survey had already been conducted three years earlier, in 2018.
In 2018, 37 percent said it was “not too likely” or “not at all likely” that they would have children someday.
By 2021, that number had increased to 44 percent.
The adults who said it was unlikely that they would ever have children were asked why.
The number one reason was that they just did not want to have children.
More than half, 56 percent, said that.
The younger adults (those below 40) were even more likely than the older ones (ages 40-49) to say that they just didn’t want to have kids:
60 percent, compared to 46 percent.
What about the 43 percent of the adults who said they probably would never have any children, but not because they didn’t want children?
The three most common reasons the men and women gave for why they would probably never have kids, even though they probably did want them, were:
- Medical reasons (19 percent)
- Financial reasons (17 percent)
- No partner (15 percent)
Other reasons included thinking that they or their partner were too old (10 percent), the state of the world (9 percent), climate change/the environment (5 percent), and that their partner doesn’t want kids (2 percent).
The drop in intentions to have children between 2018 and 2021 might be explained by the pandemic. However, even before the pandemic, birth rates were declining. Another Pew Report noted that the year 2019 marked the fifth consecutive year in which the U.S. birth rate had declined.