Childlessness and education level

24/05/2004 10:00

About 11 percent of the women currently aged 60 remained childless. About 17 percent of the women currently aged about 45 did not have children. About 20 percent of the women around 30 do not expect to have children.

Women without children

Women without children

Highly educated women often without children

One of the explanations of childlessness among women is the advancing education level. Older generations of women have lower education levels than the current generation of women. About half of the women over 45 have a secondary or tertiary level education. This is about 80 percent for women around 30.

A quarter of the highly educated women over 45 did not have children, and so did 9 percent of the women with little education over 45. This difference does not get any smaller among women aged 30 and 40. Over a quarter of the highly educated women does not expect to have any children, as do one in eight of the women with little education.

The difference can be attributed mainly to whether or not women have a steady partner. A high percentage of highly educated women lives alone.

Women without children by level of education

Women without children by level of education

Voluntarily or involuntarily?

Not having children can be a conscious decision. It can also be the result of waiting too long. Women may feel too old to have children or are no longer physically capable of having them.

Fertile women can remain childless without wanting to. This can be due to illness, disability, or not finding the right partner in time. Among the women aged 26-45 some four in ten indicate that it is not their choice to remain without children. Six in ten women without children chose to be without children.

Reasons not to have children

Women choose not to have children for various reasons. Half of the women who chose not to have children felt it would infringe on their freedom. Another reason given is that raising children takes too much time and energy. Many women who give the second reason also gave the first. Another frequently stated reason is that the partner did not want children.

Reasons why women chose not to have children

Reasons why women chose not to have children

Arie de Graaf