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from Columbia, Mo., launched the ChildFree Web site to link up with others like herself: married people who don't want children. Within days of posting the site, Korasick says, she was inundated with grateful emails from other deliberately childless couples, and was even offered cash donations toward maintaining the site. Korasick and her husband, John, 30, are members of a small but growing demographic group here in the U.S. According to the Census Bureau's 1998 Current Population Survey, a greater percentage of women of all ages are not having children. In that year, 5.7 million (or 18.4 percent) married women of childbearing age (defined by the Census as between 15 and 44 years old) were childless. And many of them like it that way. The National Center of Health Statistics confirms that the percentage of women of childbearing age who define themsleves as voluntarily childless is on the rise: from 2.4 percent in 1982, to 4.3 percent in 1990, to 6.6 percent in 1995 (the most recent available figure). That's 4.1 million women saying no to motherhood in 1995. It's a trend that applies to all age groups: For the 25 to 29 bracket, 28 percent were childless in 1998, up from 16 percent in 1976; for 30- to 34-year-olds, it was 20 percent, compared with 11 percent in 1976; for 40- to 44-year-olds, 19 percent were childless, up from 10 percent in 1976. The 2000 census figures on fertility weren't available at press time, but Amara Bachu, co-author of the Census Bureau's 1998 report, “Fertility of American Women,” says: “From the data we've gathered so far, it looks like childlessness is continuing to go up.” The reasons for opting out of parenthood range from religion to ideology to simple lifestyle preference. (See Sidebar, next page.) Yet, whatever their motives, these couples say they are either overlooked or looked down upon by the surrounding, child-oriented society. “When I refer to ‘my family,’ people seem baffled,” says Candace Korasick. “They say, ‘I thought you didn't have kids.’ I absolutely consider my husband and myself a family, but other people don't even use family terminology for us.” In recent years, a number of Web sites, including Korasick's, (web.missouri.edu/~cak307), have popped up, such as Child-free by Choice (www.childfree.net) and Childfree Families (http//220.127.116.11/cf.nsf/main ), as well as social networks such as No Kidding!, an organization with 68 chapters in North America, up from 47 last year. The members of this group are not only clamoring to be recognized by society, but also by businesses. “Couples without children are totally ignored as a group, and businesses lose money that way,” says Karen Smith, co-founder of the Leavenworth, Wash.-based organization Childless by Choice. “We are not to be lumped with single people or empty-nesters. After all, we're different ages, we have different priorities, different expenses, and we're at completely
married couples without kids have more discretionary income than households with children.” The spending behavior of childless couples rests on some attractive demographic qualities. the census reports. untapped market. “Some clichés are true. left). she seeks recommendations from others like herself: childless couples who balk at the “family style” offerings of most hotels.000 versus 54 percent of couples with children). a 40-year-old technology writer from Duvall. clothing and — surprisingly — pets..” says Wallander.” He points out that in some spending categories. no orthodontists and no family-size SUVs. Part of it may be overcompensation. says Ed Wallander.. Instead. Although there is little difference in income (55 percent of childless couples have incomes over $50. There are no pediatrician bills. As of 1998. Md. We're a huge. compared with 17 percent of those with kids. a computer consultant from Knoxville. author of The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless (Free Press. and we avoid the ones that don't. People think that because we don't have children. The childless are more likely to have professional or managerial occupations (24 percent versus 16 percent of dual-employed couples with children). 39. They also tend to be insanely generous to their nieces and nephews. Wis. “Marketers may take childless couples for granted when marketing to married couples as a whole. a Madison. they spend 60 percent more on entertainment.” says Elinor Burkett. Says Revell Benjamin: “We swap information on hotels that cater to us.” Adds Scott Wenzel. (See chart. childless families have no child-related expenses to contend with. plans a vacation. a principal at Third Wave. insurance.) They also spend a lot on booze. Wash. charitable groups. this diaper-free brigade wields considerable financial clout. They don't need to pay for diapers or baby food or their children's health care. restaurants. However. . According to analysis done for American Demographics by Third Wave Research Group. and they spend a lot of money on them. let alone pay preschool tuition.different life stages. 2000). couples without children say companies — including financial services. They don't have to save for their child's college education. “Childless couples very often have pets. In general. They also don't structure their lives around the academic year and school vacations or choose their residence according to the quality of the school district.-based demographic marketing firm. we're not buying things. It's just not true. previous page. as consumers. 79 percent more on food and 101 percent more on dining out. who is married and childless: “We're probably the largest and least recognized group in Western society right now. childless couples spend more per person in almost every consumer category than their married-with-children counterparts (See methodology. Two-income couples without children are better educated than two-income couples with children. she doesn't bother consulting a travel agent. “But their discretionary income and their buying patterns — as well as their size and their growth — show that couples without children should be recognized as a unique marketing opportunity.” Yet. the higher per-person outlays by childless couples are especially notable: Compared with couples with kids. When Julie Revell Benjamin. 30 percent of childless couples consisted of two college graduates. and travel and leisure companies — fail to recognize their spending power.
” she recalls. from which children are prohibited. couples without kids go on bike and walking tours.We're buying different things: cruises. we enjoy the good life. I'm on the go. exotic locations and adventure destinations that don't easily accommodate children. the Dallas-based restaurant and games/entertainment chain. mean killjoys. childless couples cite Dave and Buster's as an attractive venue. That's why we have some pretty hard and fast rules about children. home remodeling and landscaping. spas. “Our goal was to cater to adults. ‘But I want to get pregnant someday.’ ” Peterson. ecological vacations. As a result. I can't cook. when kid travel tends to be light. There's a whole profile of child-free couples. cars. “The commercial could have ended there. we go out to restaurants more frequently. We tend to be environmentally motivated. ‘For your family!’ I said to my husband.” Couples such as the Benjamins complain that companies don't consider their preferences when they make sales pitches. has built its franchise of 28 outlets nationwide around strict policies meant to deter families with small children. .” Certain products and services are naturals for childless couples. says Childless by Choice founder Karen Smith. you think of teens taking over. offers another example. who had a tubal ligation in January. and the voice says. Revell Benjamin responds to ads that show couples without children as “carefree and fun-loving” rather than “scary. Some choose the exit rows in the airplane. “The tag line was.” explains co-founder and co-CEO Dave Corriveau. But people who don't have kids want to know how to give to charity and how to retire. but of course. Instead of heading to Orlando's theme parks. she [the actress] has to add. we spend more on entertainment. Dave and Buster's. But what if you don't have kids? How do you structure your savings then? I would like to see just one ad thrown in the mix that addresses our needs. “I saw an ad for a pregnancy test where the woman is happy to find out she's not pregnant. ‘Did you hear the one about the couple who test drove the Impala and never came back?’ ” In fact. vacations.” “There was an ad for Impala where a husband is driving and the wife has her head out the window. archeological digs and museum tours. a married 27-year-old from Sunnyvale. “Normally when you think of games. Calif. and stay at bed-and-breakfasts and hotels geared toward honeymooners or business travelers. who can often afford and seek out expensive travel arrangements.” says Shannon Peterson. “One ad for Ragú shows this new microwaveable pasta being eaten by kids. Magazines always give advice on saving for kids. Childless couples say they avoid traveling during school holidays and take flights early in the morning.” There are some exceptions. but we wanted to preserve a place for the over-21 crowd. ‘Why aren't they marketing to me? I work.’ ” Says Karen Smith: “All the investment ads talk about education IRAs and saving for college and trusts for children. I would eat something like that. and we try to project ‘adult establishment’ in our marketing efforts.
Women in their 40s are split. They're decorating the nursery. MARRIED MARRIED CHILDLESS COUPLES CHILDLESS PRODUCT COUPLES COUPLES.139 $3. But women in their 30s feel very little social obligation to meet those expectations even when their families and friends pressure them.” THE CHILDLESS BUDGET MORE THAN 6 MILLION MARRIED COUPLES BETWEEN THE AGES OF 22 AND 45 HAVE MONEY ALL FOR THEMSELVES. Madelyn Cain originally wrote The Childless Revolution (Perseus. from Central Islip. says many auto commercials turn her off..928 $1.. according to author Elinor Burkett. second homes and cars. and childless couples also spend differently on such big-ticket items as homes. trading in the car for a minivan. “Women in their 50s feel an emotional expectation of themselves as mothers. WITH KIDS.140 $1.” she says. who seemed to be overlooked. “Many of us probably wouldn't take that kind of risk if we had kids. but more time on their hands too. Childless couples tend to have not only more discretionary income than larger families. That often means more attention paid to second jobs. “You're not going to see many childless people with vans. “Couples without children are always shown preparing for parenthood.” Maria Bareiss.497 $618 $1.070 Pets $282 $345 Food $6.695 $667 $2. 29. Just once I'd like to see someone trading in the SUV and buying a Corvette. hobbies and passions. They also tend to give money to charity and to volunteer. COUPLES CATEGORY WITH KIDS SPENDING SPENDING (22-45) (22-45) PER PERSON PER PERSON Alcoholic $297 $509 beverages Apparel $2. of New London.” Carrieann Lahain. But after interviewing 125 child-free women.947 $973 — Men's $411 $481 — Women's $619 $640 Education $856 $212 $724 $362 Entertainment $2. “Everyone I know who owns a hybrid car doesn't have children.They travel differently and dine differently.” Cain says. 32. “Even if this isn't a sanctioned option. They have their eye on what would be their sixth purchase — the environmentally friendly Toyota Prius. it's being embraced by more and more people with each generation.” Bareiss says. “They don't need mommy cars.715 $6. she was surprised how widespread the choice had already become. Which shows me the choice to remain childless is only getting stronger. Many work long hours and are willing to splurge on a nice car for their commute. and her husband collect cars. Mitch Greenberg's No Kidding! group in Baltimore has gone skydiving together and is planning a hanggliding trip this year. 2001) to put a face on childless people.070 .” Greenberg says.Y. N. Conn.
81 earners Average HH size 4. the most recent data available.273 $6. In order to look at couples without any children.92 1. This was to avoid grouping in empty-nesters with childless couples.04 2.342 Personal insurance $5.731 $59. GENERATIONS OF CHILDLESSNESS .236 $554 $2. MARRIED MARRIED CHILDLESS COUPLES CHILDLESS PRODUCT COUPLES COUPLES.849 $7. We also controlled the number of people per household to two for childless couples. to ensure that adult children still in the household were included.144 $1.8% 68.031 $1. COUPLES CATEGORY WITH KIDS SPENDING SPENDING (22-45) (22-45) PER PERSON PER PERSON — Restaurants $2. parent or other family member residing with them.298 Total # of consumer 22.932 $2.114 Health $1. tenant.007 $3. By doing so. WITH KIDS.00 Average income $56.727 $46.988 after taxes* Percent 75.4 36.032 $255 $952 $476 Personal care $523 $129 $464 $232 Reading materials $179 $44 $198 $99 Tobacco $338 $374 Transportation $9.707 units Average age 37.284 $4.228 $1. it is important to recognize that the numbers do not include childless couples who have a friend.991 $493 $1.424 Miscellaneous $1.028.031 $14.458 $9. Third Wave and American Demographics restricted the ages to married people between 22 and 45 years old.0% homeownership Source: Third Wave Research *Uncorrected data Group Methodology: The analysis by Third Wave was created using Consumer Expenditure Survey data from 1999.7 Average # of 1.839 Cash contributions $1.223.MORE THAN 6 MILLION MARRIED COUPLES BETWEEN THE AGES OF 22 AND 45 HAVE MONEY ALL FOR THEMSELVES.677 $4.607 $803 Housing $16.825 6.004 & pensions TOTAL $49.
931 old) Boomers (35-44 22.354 26% 28% Earning under 2.960 18% 16% $75.038. 2000 FORGET THE BABYSITTER PORTRAIT OF CHILDLESS WOMEN WOMEN 15-44 YEARS OLD Total women 60.296 TOTAL PERCENT OF PERCENT OF WOMEN 15-44 CHILDLESS CHILDLESS WOMEN YEARS OLD WOMEN WOMEN OVERALL Not a high school 7.627.000 33% 35% 6.422 8% 9% $10.358.680.682 68% 68% Unemployed 1.718.018 Currently married*. Earning over 4. WHILE THIS INCLUDES EMPTY-NESTERS.000/yr.072 5% 5% Not in labor force 6. .000 Total childless women 25. 1998 CHILDLESS MARRIED COUPLES ON THE RISE THE MARCH 2000 CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY SHOWS THAT 30 MILLION MARRIED COUPLES DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE CHILDREN IN THEIR HOUSEHOLD. degree 1.188 18% 16% Grad/prof.168 29% 22% graduate High school 4.464. Census Bureau.000 30% 78% 14.968 years old) Source: U.913.997.620.519.539.215.385.” Current Population Survey.447. THE NUMBERS ARE STILL SIGNIFICANT Source: “Americas Family and Living Arrangements.359.375.075 old) Gen X (25-34 years 19.ALMOST 1 IN 5 BOOMERS OF CHILDBEARING AGE ARE CURRENTLY WITHOUT KIDS GENERATIONS IN PERCENT OF THEIR TOTAL TOTAL PERCENT TOTAL CHILDBEARING WOMEN CHILDBEARING CHILDLESS CHILDLESS YEARS POPULATION Gen Y (15-24 years 18.114 6% 5% Employed 17.476.S. June Current Population Survey. no children 5.000 37% 19% 4.259.760 20% 29% graduate Bachelor's degree 4.000/yr.
money.” says Madelyn Cain. economist at the University of Toronto: “Female education is the most important determinant of fertility. Many couples without children prefer to call themselves “child free. Also birth control technology is a big factor here. Why choose childlessness? “A lot of what's going on has to do with gender and gender role changes. they realize and decide that they just can't do it all. connotes emancipation from the time. married for six years. author of The Childless Revolution (Perseus.” Carroll says. “Child free. “Children don't interest me. personalities and priorities. a sociologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. “At first I thought it was a fluke.” Others remain without children for religious or ideological reasons. Couples without kids say choosing not to have children does not mean they are selfish. 2000). confirms Cain's findings. Many lack the emotional desire. Cain found a whole group who cite environmental reasons.” however. immature or unhappy — though they often feel American society portrays them that way. The higher education a woman has.WOMEN 15-44 YEARS OLD *Husband present WHY ‘CHILD FREE?’ TOTAL PERCENT OF PERCENT OF CHILDLESS CHILDLESS WOMEN WOMEN WOMEN OVERALL Source: American Demographics analysis of 1998 Current Population Survey data Childless-by-choice couples say their education reflects who they are — their interests.” says Pamela Smock. They wouldn't like being mothers. from Central Islip.” Adds David Foot. We have the choice. 2001). the greater likelihood that she won't have children. “They're well-educated and socially aware.” Laura Carroll.Y. N. Or they find out that they don't want to. “They don't want to bring more children in this world.” she recalls. who interviewed 125 couples for her book. decided early on to forgo having children. and says that such political consciousness extends to younger generations. “But they kept turning up. And they had all spent some time in Third World countries and had witnessed the poverty that comes from overpopulation. don't think they'd be good fathers or they simply aren't especially inclined toward having children. Lahain and her husband.” says Carrieann Lahain. Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice (Xlibris. her . “There are more young men in their 30s getting vasectomies. 32. Carroll talked to many couples who formed their values in the 1960s and have retained them throughout their lives.” But the vast majority of childless couples say they simply don't want kids or don't think they're suited for parenthood.” since to them “childless” implies a lack or a loss. “As women rise up the corporate ladder and have higher incomes. energy and responsibility that parenting requires. which is a myth anyway. who interviewed over 100 child-free couples for her book.
husband had a vasectomy when he was 24.” . And I'm interested in other things that would be squeezed out by parenting. “I don't have the patience that one needs to put up with a child 24/7.
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