Master of Arts (MA)
Most large-scale studies on voluntary childlessness since the waning of the baby boom provide cross-sectional estimates for a single time period. They cannot be synthesized to estimate change because of the varied definitions used to operationalize voluntary childlessness. In this study, I use data from the 1973-2002 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to estimate change in voluntary childlessness using a consistent definition by period and birth cohort. I find that voluntary childlessness stayed relatively constant through the seventies and eighties, but showed a large increase from the mid-nineties to 2002. I show that voluntary childlessness increased in recent years because baby-boomers postponed childbearing until they no longer desired it, and younger women born in the seventies are now deciding to remain childless earlier. I discuss the role of these younger women in establishing a ceiling for voluntary childlessness. I also provide initial results supporting the theory that voluntary childlessness is diffusing among women of lower education and higher religiosity.
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Chancey, Laurie, "Voluntary childlessness in the United States: recent trends by cohort and period" (2006). LSU Master's Theses. 717.