The cover of last week’s TIME magazine (March 12, 2012) boasted “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life.” As I read about Idea #1, how living alone is the new norm, I was surprised to come across these words:
“According to 2011 census data, people who live alone–nearly 33 million Americans–make up 28% of all U.S. households, which means they are now tied with childless couples as the most prominent residential family type.”
So, by my math, at least 56 percent of us don’t have children, and similar figures were shown for Canada, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Japan, Russia and South Africa. Whether we are single or part of a couple, we are more prevalent than traditional nuclear families.
Boy, it sure doesn’t feel like it, does it?
I have to say I was surprised to see these figures. But as childless, childfree, unchilded people (whatever you want to call us) we are, in fact, the norm.
Knowing this is not going to change people’s attitudes, at least not just yet, but if anyone should tell you that being childfree isn’t normal, feel free to whip out these numbers and set them straight.
Kate B says
I had two thoughts upon reading this – first – you are right, it sure does not feel like we childless,childree, whatevers are the majority. Then I thought – well – the Duggars make up for a lot of us.
Maybe what makes us feel like the minority is that probably a good chunk of the currently childless do not plan to remain so.
Not to be boring or redundant, but I overwhelmingly agree with Lisa and Kate B. “Boy, it sure doesn’t feel like it.”
Living my Life says
I agree with Kate, that figure would include a lot of people in their 20’s and early 30’s who will go on to have children, plus empty nesters, but still it is interesting.
I like it – I’ve always been a sucker for statistics.
I’ve heard some of those figures before, but dismissed it, for precisely the reason that “it doesn’t feel like it.” Which is annoying, when you think about it, as most people only have children in their homes for about 20 years of their adult lives. But the way media and politicians talk, it is as if everyone lives that way ALL THE TIME. Thanks for reminding me of this.
That is all so interesting. I must agree with you and everyone else – it definitely doesn’t feel like it!
Even discounting the women who will eventually go on to have children, there are still about 20% of us who never will have children, for whatever reason. That’s still a pretty significant number. So why do we still feel so ignored?
I had to laugh over Kate’s comment about the Duggars. : )
I tried crunching these numbers recently. Using stats and making some assumptions, I reckon there are about 25 million women in the US who will never have children. That’s still an almighty chunk of the population.
And then the question for me becomes – And what does our society need to discount this reality for? What about the idea of childlessness is so terrorizing for our media industry to embrace?
To be honest (and flippant), I believe it all comes down to retail. The Childless/Childfree are too diverse group to appeal to mass marketing–yet. If we could get our own holiday, or if manufacturers were smart enough to recognize our disposable income as a whole, we would be recognized–kowtowed to, even. We need a cool name and a network of social clubs…..
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the thought. Not to say that people without children have gobs of disposable income, but on average we should have more than people who are paying to raise children, send them to college, etc, so why aren’t marketers pandering to us? Shrug.
They are not going to pander to us because we DONT have something that voraciously consumes money. Kids need/want a bazillion things. It’s the cash cow that we AREN’T. However I have found that people without children have more “time”, so I think at least the travel industry should seriously suck-up to us.