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Childlessness: a life choice that goes against the norm

Population and Societies

508, February 2014

In France, it is quite rare to be childless and to report not wanting any children. Who are the people concerned? What are the reasons for their choice? Does living with a partner make any difference? Charlotte Debest and Magali Mazuy have analysed this life choice using data from several surveys, notably 2010 the Fecond survey, and present their findings here.
In France, only a minority of people wish to remain childless, and the proportion reporting this choice has remained stable for the last two decades. In statistical terms, reporting a wish to remain childless is more frequent among persons who are not in a union, among highly educated women and among men with a low educational level or at the end of their reproductive life. Data from the Fecond survey (2010) and from a qualitative interview-based survey indicated that more than half of the persons reporting a wish to remain childless are in a union and that the majority give "libertarian" reasons for this choice, such as being "happy without children" and a "desire for freedom". Running counter to the "family" norm, these people affirm a positive life choice focusing on personal fulfilment.

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