Have you ever considered a life without children?

While parenthood is often seen as a necessary and fulfilling part of life, a growing number of couples choose voluntary childlessness. These individuals value their autonomy and recognize that having children is not the only path to a fulfilling life. However, this decision is often met with societal and familial pressure, as having children is seen as a traditional expectation in most cultures.

Critics argue that choosing to be childless goes against the natural biological drive to procreate. They also say that childless couples will have no one to care for them in their old age and may miss out on the joys of parenthood. But is this really the case?

On the other hand, supporters of voluntary childlessness argue that it enables greater focus on personal and professional goals, reduces the strain on the environment, and allows for a more fulfilling life without parenthood’s responsibilities and financial burdens. They reject the insulting remark that they will never feel complete unless they have a child.

Despite the benefits, there are also some challenges that childless couples frequently face. For instance, childless employees don’t enjoy the benefits that their counterparts do, who have children. Additionally, more than one million people aged over 65 without children in the UK are “dangerously unsupported” by society and at acute risk of isolation, loneliness, poor health, poverty, and being unable to access formal care.

There are still a lot of arguments surrounding the practice and how society perceives voluntary childlessness, which prompted Real Research, an online survey app, to conduct a survey on “public opinion on voluntary childlessness” to understand people’s perspectives on this emerging trend and find the causes behind it.

Key Highlights

  • More than 75% predict that this trend will continue to rise in the future.
  • Voluntary childlessness has increased with growing social acceptance, believes 48.03%.
  • 23% will definitely opt to be childfree, while 30.1% may consider it.

Childfree by Choice

Based on the results of the survey, it appears that the idea of voluntary childlessness is familiar to a majority of the respondents. Specifically, 70.95% of the sample reported knowing about the decision to forgo parenthood, while the remaining 29.05% indicated that they were not aware of this trend, suggesting that there is still work to be done in terms of educating the public and raising awareness about this lifestyle choice.

Fig 1: Awareness of voluntary childlessness practice
Fig 1: Awareness of voluntary childlessness practice

Interestingly, the respondents exhibited varying preferences when asked about their inclination toward voluntary childlessness. Notably, 30.98% strongly opposed the idea, while 23% expressed confidence in embracing it. A significant portion, about 30.1%, was on the fence regarding the matter, although 15.92% of respondents were uncertain of their stance.

When Two’s Company

Supporters of voluntary childlessness claim that child-free millennials were dragging their heels to express and celebrate their decision earlier. But there has been a significant change in recent years, with more individuals feeling comfortable discussing their experiences and following the lead of other intentional non-parents, who have become more open and vocal about their choices.

As a result, 48.03% of respondents reported that growing social acceptance had played a role in people’s decision to forgo parenthood. Nevertheless, 32.3% were uncertain whether this is the driving force behind this growing trend, and 19.67% explicitly stated that social acceptance is not responsible for the trend’s rise.

Fig 2 People’s decision to be child-free due to growing social acceptance
Fig 2: People’s decision to be child-free due to growing social acceptance

In fact, when asked about the reasons for voluntary childlessness, the respondents were divided into different groups with varying opinions on the factors that could contribute to this trend. The majority (17.53%) cited financial considerations as the main reason, while 11.11% believed it could be due to a rebellious attitude towards societal norms and expectations.

Other factors mentioned by the respondents included career aspirations (5.01%), health concerns (5.11%), desire for independence or freedom (8.24%), reluctance to take on responsibilities (7.93%), unwillingness to adjust lifestyle choices (8.23%), observing friends or family struggle with parenthood (9.02%), concerns about overpopulation (8.58%), and experiencing pedophobia (5.84%).

Opting Out of Parenthood

A previous study by the Pew Research Center showed that there is an exponential increase in the number of people opting for childlessness voluntarily in the US, and in this Real Research survey, when the sample was asked about the possibility of this trend continuing to rise, a whopping 75.67% of respondents in our sample believed that it would indeed rise, while only 24.33% believed it would not.

Fig 3 Probability of this trend rising in the future
Fig 3: Probability of this trend rising in the future

The respondents were asked about the potential downsides of not having children, and their answers showed several concerns. The majority of respondents (17.82%) expressed concern about the possibility of regretting their decision later in life.

Other concerns included the lack of companionship or caregiving support in old age (16.42%), and the likelihood of not being able to pass down family traditions to future generations (15.67%). Additionally, some respondents felt that not having children could lead to social isolation among peers who are already parents (13.07%).

Some respondents mentioned social stigma or pressure from friends and family (11.74%), while others expressed feelings of isolation (11.05%).

Happiness Beyond Childlessness

Social media platforms like TikTok have enabled the emergence of several communities, including the Child-Free Movement, which has influenced hundreds of people. When this survey asked about the benefits of voluntary childlessness, the results showed that 25.15% of respondents cited the ability to enjoy a flexible lifestyle as the primary benefit.

Other respondents mentioned benefits such as having the freedom to pursue hobbies such as travel (13.85%), gaining financial independence (13.54%), having time to focus on personal growth (12.09%), having no added responsibilities (11.37%), and having the freedom to pursue a career (8.83%).

While the practice of voluntary childlessness has gained momentum, its impact on future generations’ decisions to have children or on wider perceptions of non-parents is still a subject of debate. Nonetheless, social media has proven to be a powerful tool for creating and influencing communities, and it will be interesting to see how this practice evolves in the future.


Survey TitlePublic Opinion on Voluntary Childlessness
DurationMar 26, 2023to Apr 2, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.