Time magazine’s new cover story “Having It All Without Having Children,” by Lauren Sandler breaks down an interesting trend. More couples are foregoing parenthood than ever before in American history:
From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s. Even before the recession hit, in 2008, the proportion of women ages 40 to 44 who had never given birth had grown by 80 percent, from 10% to 18%, since 1976, when a new vanguard began to question the reproductive imperative… the rise [of childlessness] is both dramatic and, in the scope of our history, quite sudden.
The article purports to examine how judged and scorned these childless couples are in a society that often “equates womanhood with motherhood.” Instead of entering into what one childless-by-choice woman described as “the glamorous martyrdom of motherhood,” they are simply making another choice… a choice that just so happens to allow them to have more free time and take more exotic vacations than the rest of us.
This is where Time begins to get it wrong, because it fails to note that this so-called martyrdom goes both ways. Read my take on the Time piece here.