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Childless by Choice

Childless by Choice

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CHILDLESS BY CHOICE BY PAMELA PAUL American Demographics, Nov 1, 2001 In 1997, Candace Korasick, a 32-year-old graduate student

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//24.89.14.183/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

People think that because we don't have children.” says Wallander. we're not buying things. It's just not true. However. They don't need to pay for diapers or baby food or their children's health care. According to analysis done for American Demographics by Third Wave Research Group. Although there is little difference in income (55 percent of childless couples have incomes over $50. Md. Part of it may be overcompensation. They also tend to be insanely generous to their nieces and nephews. Wis. The childless are more likely to have professional or managerial occupations (24 percent versus 16 percent of dual-employed couples with children). As of 1998. untapped market. previous page. In general. a Madison. 39. 30 percent of childless couples consisted of two college graduates. “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.” says Elinor Burkett. a 40-year-old technology writer from Duvall..000 versus 54 percent of couples with children). the higher per-person outlays by childless couples are especially notable: Compared with couples with kids. the census reports. childless families have no child-related expenses to contend with. We're a huge. no orthodontists and no family-size SUVs.) They also spend a lot on booze. this diaper-free brigade wields considerable financial clout. There are no pediatrician bills. a principal at Third Wave. who is married and childless: “We're probably the largest and least recognized group in Western society right now.” The spending behavior of childless couples rests on some attractive demographic qualities. 2000). she doesn't bother consulting a travel agent. let alone pay preschool tuition. they spend 60 percent more on entertainment. and we avoid the ones that don't. plans a vacation. When Julie Revell Benjamin. compared with 17 percent of those with kids. left). “Marketers may take childless couples for granted when marketing to married couples as a whole. and travel and leisure companies — fail to recognize their spending power. “Some clichés are true. clothing and — surprisingly — pets. author of The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless (Free Press.” Adds Scott Wenzel. charitable groups.-based demographic marketing firm. as consumers. married couples without kids have more discretionary income than households with children. “Childless couples very often have pets.different life stages. a computer consultant from Knoxville. They don't have to save for their child's college education.. Says Revell Benjamin: “We swap information on hotels that cater to us. says Ed Wallander. childless couples spend more per person in almost every consumer category than their married-with-children counterparts (See methodology. Wash. 79 percent more on food and 101 percent more on dining out. (See chart.” He points out that in some spending categories. Two-income couples without children are better educated than two-income couples with children. insurance. and they spend a lot of money on them. Instead.” Yet. 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. she seeks recommendations from others like herself: childless couples who balk at the “family style” offerings of most hotels. . restaurants. couples without children say companies — including financial services.

vacations. ecological vacations. has built its franchise of 28 outlets nationwide around strict policies meant to deter families with small children. but of course.” says Shannon Peterson.” explains co-founder and co-CEO Dave Corriveau.” Certain products and services are naturals for childless couples. a married 27-year-old from Sunnyvale.” “There was an ad for Impala where a husband is driving and the wife has her head out the window. and the voice says. ‘But I want to get pregnant someday. from which children are prohibited. who can often afford and seek out expensive travel arrangements. mean killjoys. spas. Dave and Buster's.” Couples such as the Benjamins complain that companies don't consider their preferences when they make sales pitches. But people who don't have kids want to know how to give to charity and how to retire. offers another example. “Normally when you think of games. we enjoy the good life. when kid travel tends to be light. cars. I'm on the go. we spend more on entertainment. I can't cook. and stay at bed-and-breakfasts and hotels geared toward honeymooners or business travelers. Revell Benjamin responds to ads that show couples without children as “carefree and fun-loving” rather than “scary. We tend to be environmentally motivated. she [the actress] has to add. Childless couples say they avoid traveling during school holidays and take flights early in the morning. 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. and we try to project ‘adult establishment’ in our marketing efforts. we go out to restaurants more frequently.We're buying different things: cruises. “The tag line was. says Childless by Choice founder Karen Smith. I would eat something like that. who had a tubal ligation in January. archeological digs and museum tours. “The commercial could have ended there. Calif. Magazines always give advice on saving for kids. ‘Why aren't they marketing to me? I work. ‘For your family!’ I said to my husband. the Dallas-based restaurant and games/entertainment chain. but we wanted to preserve a place for the over-21 crowd. ‘Did you hear the one about the couple who test drove the Impala and never came back?’ ” In fact. “Our goal was to cater to adults. As a result. . Instead of heading to Orlando's theme parks.’ ” Peterson. home remodeling and landscaping. “I saw an ad for a pregnancy test where the woman is happy to find out she's not pregnant.” There are some exceptions. couples without kids go on bike and walking tours.” she recalls.’ ” Says Karen Smith: “All the investment ads talk about education IRAs and saving for college and trusts for children. exotic locations and adventure destinations that don't easily accommodate children. That's why we have some pretty hard and fast rules about children. “One ad for Ragú shows this new microwaveable pasta being eaten by kids. you think of teens taking over. Some choose the exit rows in the airplane. childless couples cite Dave and Buster's as an attractive venue. There's a whole profile of child-free couples.

Just once I'd like to see someone trading in the SUV and buying a Corvette.140 $1.” THE CHILDLESS BUDGET MORE THAN 6 MILLION MARRIED COUPLES BETWEEN THE AGES OF 22 AND 45 HAVE MONEY ALL FOR THEMSELVES.070 . That often means more attention paid to second jobs.They travel differently and dine differently. Women in their 40s are split. “Many of us probably wouldn't take that kind of risk if we had kids.” she says. but more time on their hands too. “Women in their 50s feel an emotional expectation of themselves as mothers. hobbies and passions. and her husband collect cars. of New London. 2001) to put a face on childless people. second homes and cars.. COUPLES CATEGORY WITH KIDS SPENDING SPENDING (22-45) (22-45) PER PERSON PER PERSON Alcoholic $297 $509 beverages Apparel $2. and childless couples also spend differently on such big-ticket items as homes. Many work long hours and are willing to splurge on a nice car for their commute.928 $1. trading in the car for a minivan.Y. WITH KIDS. “Couples without children are always shown preparing for parenthood. “Everyone I know who owns a hybrid car doesn't have children. from Central Islip. “They don't need mommy cars. Childless couples tend to have not only more discretionary income than larger families. N. says many auto commercials turn her off. 29.” Cain says.715 $6..139 $3.695 $667 $2.070 Pets $282 $345 Food $6. MARRIED MARRIED CHILDLESS COUPLES CHILDLESS PRODUCT COUPLES COUPLES. it's being embraced by more and more people with each generation. They're decorating the nursery. But after interviewing 125 child-free women.” Greenberg says. who seemed to be overlooked. “Even if this isn't a sanctioned option.” Maria Bareiss. Madelyn Cain originally wrote The Childless Revolution (Perseus. “You're not going to see many childless people with vans. They also tend to give money to charity and to volunteer.” Bareiss says. They have their eye on what would be their sixth purchase — the environmentally friendly Toyota Prius. Which shows me the choice to remain childless is only getting stronger.” Carrieann Lahain. according to author Elinor Burkett. Mitch Greenberg's No Kidding! group in Baltimore has gone skydiving together and is planning a hanggliding trip this year.497 $618 $1. Conn. 32.947 $973 — Men's $411 $481 — Women's $619 $640 Education $856 $212 $724 $362 Entertainment $2. she was surprised how widespread the choice had already become. But women in their 30s feel very little social obligation to meet those expectations even when their families and friends pressure them.

WITH KIDS. This was to avoid grouping in empty-nesters with childless couples. tenant.4 36. GENERATIONS OF CHILDLESSNESS .727 $46.032 $255 $952 $476 Personal care $523 $129 $464 $232 Reading materials $179 $44 $198 $99 Tobacco $338 $374 Transportation $9. In order to look at couples without any children. to ensure that adult children still in the household were included.932 $2.031 $14.236 $554 $2. We also controlled the number of people per household to two for childless couples. it is important to recognize that the numbers do not include childless couples who have a friend.114 Health $1. Third Wave and American Demographics restricted the ages to married people between 22 and 45 years old.707 units Average age 37.007 $3. the most recent data available.7 Average # of 1.04 2. MARRIED MARRIED CHILDLESS COUPLES CHILDLESS PRODUCT COUPLES COUPLES.273 $6.298 Total # of consumer 22.849 $7.284 $4.458 $9.MORE THAN 6 MILLION MARRIED COUPLES BETWEEN THE AGES OF 22 AND 45 HAVE MONEY ALL FOR THEMSELVES.028.677 $4.825 6.0% homeownership Source: Third Wave Research *Uncorrected data Group Methodology: The analysis by Third Wave was created using Consumer Expenditure Survey data from 1999.92 1.223.424 Miscellaneous $1.988 after taxes* Percent 75.991 $493 $1.031 $1.81 earners Average HH size 4.004 & pensions TOTAL $49.731 $59. parent or other family member residing with them.8% 68.839 Cash contributions $1. COUPLES CATEGORY WITH KIDS SPENDING SPENDING (22-45) (22-45) PER PERSON PER PERSON — Restaurants $2.228 $1.144 $1.607 $803 Housing $16.342 Personal insurance $5. By doing so.00 Average income $56.

no children 5.960 18% 16% $75.718.” Current Population Survey. June Current Population Survey.000/yr.620.447.931 old) Boomers (35-44 22.296 TOTAL PERCENT OF PERCENT OF WOMEN 15-44 CHILDLESS CHILDLESS WOMEN YEARS OLD WOMEN WOMEN OVERALL Not a high school 7.114 6% 5% Employed 17.682 68% 68% Unemployed 1.018 Currently married*.038.539.375.913.680.997.422 8% 9% $10.627. 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.000/yr. degree 1.000 30% 78% 14.075 old) Gen X (25-34 years 19.359.760 20% 29% graduate Bachelor's degree 4. .000 33% 35% 6. Census Bureau.519.464. Earning over 4.S. THE NUMBERS ARE STILL SIGNIFICANT Source: “Americas Family and Living Arrangements.188 18% 16% Grad/prof.968 years old) Source: U.476. 2000 FORGET THE BABYSITTER PORTRAIT OF CHILDLESS WOMEN WOMEN 15-44 YEARS OLD Total women 60.259.168 29% 22% graduate High school 4.215.000 37% 19% 4.385.000 Total childless women 25.072 5% 5% Not in labor force 6.354 26% 28% Earning under 2.358.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. WHILE THIS INCLUDES EMPTY-NESTERS.

We have the choice. The higher education a woman has. don't think they'd be good fathers or they simply aren't especially inclined toward having children. author of The Childless Revolution (Perseus. They wouldn't like being mothers. confirms Cain's findings. “Children don't interest me.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. Many lack the emotional desire. which is a myth anyway. the greater likelihood that she won't have children. Or they find out that they don't want to.” Others remain without children for religious or ideological reasons. “At first I thought it was a fluke. And they had all spent some time in Third World countries and had witnessed the poverty that comes from overpopulation. “As women rise up the corporate ladder and have higher incomes.” Carroll says.” But the vast majority of childless couples say they simply don't want kids or don't think they're suited for parenthood. and says that such political consciousness extends to younger generations. 32.” Laura Carroll.Y. decided early on to forgo having children. they realize and decide that they just can't do it all.” Adds David Foot. immature or unhappy — though they often feel American society portrays them that way. Many couples without children prefer to call themselves “child free. who interviewed over 100 child-free couples for her book. a sociologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. connotes emancipation from the time.” says Carrieann Lahain. “Child free. Why choose childlessness? “A lot of what's going on has to do with gender and gender role changes. “They're well-educated and socially aware. Also birth control technology is a big factor here.” says Pamela Smock. 2000). “But they kept turning up. Cain found a whole group who cite environmental reasons. her .” however. economist at the University of Toronto: “Female education is the most important determinant of fertility.” says Madelyn Cain. N. money. Couples without kids say choosing not to have children does not mean they are selfish. energy and responsibility that parenting requires. “They don't want to bring more children in this world. married for six years. who interviewed 125 couples for her book.” since to them “childless” implies a lack or a loss. Lahain and her husband. 2001). from Central Islip. personalities and priorities.” she recalls. Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice (Xlibris. “There are more young men in their 30s getting vasectomies. Carroll talked to many couples who formed their values in the 1960s and have retained them throughout their lives.

“I don't have the patience that one needs to put up with a child 24/7. And I'm interested in other things that would be squeezed out by parenting.husband had a vasectomy when he was 24.” .

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