1 in 6 Aussie Women Aren’t Having Children — Are We Really Surprised?

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
With the *gestures wildly* state of the world right now, it’s no surprise to know that more people are choosing not to have children. Back in 2020, Australia’s birth rate hit an all time low — a continual trend from the last 30 years.
A new study has found just how many women globally are choosing not to become mothers (a choice that has become a privilege) — and many Australians are following this child-free pathway. 1 in 6 Aussie women (16%) aged between 40 and 44 in relationships don’t have any kids. 
We actually rank eighth highest in the world when measuring countries that have the most couples that don’t have children. Spain tops the list, closely followed by Austria and the UK. While the global average sees 12.81% of women in relationships currently without kids, that figure may just be set on growing. 
According to another survey earlier this year, 27% of Gen Z respondents reported that they don’t want to have kids. 89% of these women said they enjoy the flexibility of their lives and 70% of them touted valuing their alone time as reasons to remain child-free
“It’s comforting to hear there’s more people making the same decision as me,” vocal child-free influencer Danni Duncan tells Refinery29 Australia. “I’m definitely surprised as I don’t feel like I know that many people in my social circles who are also choosing not to have children, but maybe they’re there, they just haven’t voiced it.”
From climate change concerns and fears about the cost of living, to health risks and career prioritisation, the reasons for not wanting kids are endless (of course, the simple ‘I just don’t want to have kids’ answer is valid, too). 
"Women who opt out of parenthood do so for many reasons. Some of the most common include a desire to live an autonomous or spontaneous life, an interest in nurturing other relationships, a feeling that one would not make a good parent, and an interest in pursuits that may be at odds with parenthood," Dr Amy Blackstone previously told Refinery29.
Our outlook on parenthood is slowly changing with the world around us. My friends and I are careful to ask if somebody would like to have children, instead of probing how many and when. 
“I think a lot of us [are] coming to the realisation that it’s actually a decision we can make,” Duncan says when asked why she decided she didn’t want kids. “I used to always think I was going to have children and I think it’s simply because I didn’t know there was another option.
“For me personally, I love my life. I love the connections and relationships I already have, my career, my day-to-day lifestyle and I really don’t want that to change. I also just don’t have the desire to be a mum, it’s not something I’ve ever felt the deep urge or need for.”
There's a growing willingness around embracing child-free lifestyles for women, but there's no doubt taboo that still comes with it. How do you navigate conversations with your partner? With your parents?
The best we can do is to really grapple with and nut down whether having children is what we want. These conversations will be difficult, but they are important.
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