Resources: Life Without Children: The Social Retreat from Children and How it is Changing America

For most of the nation’s history, Americans expected to devote much of their adult lives to the nurture and rearing of children. Life with children has been central to norms of adulthood, marriage and the experience of family life. Today, however, this historic pattern is changing. Life without children is becoming the more common social experience for a growing percentage of the adult population.

This is not to suggest that Americans are anti-child. On the contrary, the vast majority of Americans want, and expect to have, children. Parents love and enjoy their children.  Nor is it to suggest that Americans are having too few babies. Largely due to the flood of recent immigrants, the U.S. birth rate remains at replacement level—well above the declining rates of European nations like Italy and Germany. But what key indicators do suggest is that American society is changing in ways that make children less central to our common lives, shared goals and public commitments.

This report looks at the social indicators and cultural trends that are contributing to this large, if largely unacknowledged, transformation in American life and considers what the loss of child-centeredness means for the future prospects of children and for the society as a whole.

For answers to these questions, see the full report.