Voluntary or Involuntary Childlessness? Socio-Demographic Factors and Childlessness Intentions among Childless Finnish Men and Women aged 25-44
Lifetime childlessness is expected to increase in the future. Recent research suggests that also voluntary childlessness in increasing among young adults. As childbearing decisions are increasingly based on individual preferences and choices it is believed that also those who do not favor family life with children can now more freely express their preferences. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of voluntary childlessness among Finnish young adults and factors associated with it. Data come from Finnish Social Relationships and Well-being Survey, conducted in 2008 among 25-44-year-old childless or one-child men and women. This study focuses on childless respondents (N=1244). Two types of intentional childlessness are distinguished. Persons are classified as voluntarily childless if they do not intend to have children and prefer life without children. Those, who also
have no intentions to have children, but whose personal ideal number of children is above zero are defined as persons who have relinquished parenthood intentions. Childhood characteristics are found to predict voluntary childlessness more, while socioeconomic circumstances and lack of a suitable partner explain relinquished parenthood intentions. Respondents personal accounts on the reasons behind their childbearing choices support the findings from multivariate analyses.