May 24, 2013 | 09:05 PM (BD Time)
24 May, 2013 Friday
Childless by choice
Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin:
While considerable media attention has focused on the world's population reaching the milestone of seven billion, another demographic phenomenon receives little notice: the rise in number of people who choose not to have children.
Against a birthrate of less than two children per woman in nearly all Western countries and a growing number of developing countries - a rate that assures a ?decline in population - rising voluntary childlessness will have consequences for government programs for the aged, undesirable implications for the elderly and other repercussions, including smaller cohorts of children, increased population aging and demographic imbalances among educational groups.
When early marriage is close to universal and birth control is practiced little, less than three per cent of women remain childless by the time they reach their late 40s. Until the early 1960s and the introduction of reliable family planning methods - namely, the oral contraceptive pill - childlessness within marriage was almost entirely involuntary.
The modern era provided more education opportunities for women, leading to later marriage, careers, lower proportions marrying, greater use of contraception and abortion, and changes in women's role and status. As a result, the proportions of childless women in developed countries and many developing countries are well above three per cent.
Increasing numbers of women attend schools and universities, pursuing employment, career development and self-enrichment. Consequently, women start childbearing later in life than they did in the past. Among OECD countries, for example, between 1970 and 2008 the average age at which women had their first child increased from 24 to 28 years. In Germany, Italy and Switzerland, the average age of first childbirth of women is higher, approaching 30 years. As a result of delayed childbearing, older women may find it difficult to become pregnant.
Childlessness rates are strongly connected to women's educational levels. Women with university education, for example, are more likely to be childless than those with secondary education. In addition, young women who are highly educated are more likely to choose employment and postpone family building. Another contributing factor to higher rates of childlessness among highly educated women is their reluctance to marry a less educated man.
Art and Culture
Focus on Chittagong
Fashion & Beauty
Food and Drink
Law and Justice
New Nation Supplement
Editor: Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Adviser Editor: A.M. Mufazzal, Printed and Published by Mainul Hosein from the New Nation Printing Press, 1.R.K Mission Road, Dhaka-1203 Phones: New Nation PABX: 7122654, 7114514, 7122655, Fax: 880-2-7122650, 9512775 email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org for advertisement, email@example.com