Jayman the problem is that for every person that doesn’t want kids there are 25 that do…
I wanted to see if this was in fact true. So I took a look at what the GSS could tell me.
First, I used the CHLDIDEL variable, which reports the answer on the ideal family size:
This is ideal family size of non-Hispanic Whites born 1960-1985, from the 2000-2010 GSS, by WORDSUM.
Taken at face value, indeed, it appears the commenter is more than correct, that the number of people who report an ideal family size of 0 is indeed pretty small (and smaller among the most intelligent respondents).
However, this contrasts with seems to be case anecdotally, especially among the smartest, professional types. Indeed, as commenter “e” noted on one of my earlier posts on the topic, the CHLDIDEL question may not be an accurate measure of who doesn’t personally want children since it asks the ideal family size, not your ideal family size. People may be giving the “acceptable” answer even if they don’t personally want children.
We can however look at the real-world outcomes:
This is the number of children had by the generation preceding the one in the previous example, non-Hispanic Whites born 1940-1960, from the 2000-2010 GSS, by WORDSUM score. As we can see, for the smartest Whites, about 20% failed to leave any offspring (fortunately, it seems, the same is also true for the dumbest Whites; perhaps consistent with the distribution of IQ: it is those of average ability that seem to have the largest fertility advantage).
Among the smartest Whites (with which we’re most concerned) it’s unclear how much of this is due to the fact that many actually don’t want children at all or simply wait too long to have them, and end up having few or none. But the main point is that it’s clear that problem of actual childless, regardless of actual desire, particularly among the most intelligent isn’t a problem that affects 1 in 25, but more like 1 in 5.
With that considered, perhaps it’s not wise to advocate a child-free lifestyle, particularly with the smart, capable people likely to be receiving such a message (and not the less intelligent people who should be receiving this message, but would be unmoved by how much being child-free allows you pursue a career, which is not at all a realistic possibility for them).
Oh, our commenter over at Walker’s place asked me this:
Have you really never considered the costs of bad/lazy parenting?