2020 Childfree Survey results from r/childfree
The Childfree subReddit r/childfree has posted its membership’s annual survey. This provides insight into the childfree demographic that one might find active online or in social media.
In other words, this is just a sliver of our childfree family. This Reddit group is (at the time of this article) the largest collection of people active on the topic of “childfree” with of over 1.3 Million subscribers. To put that into perspective, based on the 2010 US Census, there are over 42 Million people just between ages 40 and 50 who are childfree.
There’s a lot of data to unpack here. If you love information, numbers and graphs – you’re in luck!
Of the 1.3 Million Reddit subscribers, not all are participants in the childfree lifestyle – some might be “fence sitters” (those unsure if they want a child) or parents interested in the topic.
This comes to light in that a total of 7,305 surveys were submitted between July and October of 2020. But only 5,134 qualified based on the subreddit’s definition of childfree, “I do not have children nor want to have them in any capacity (biological, adopted, fostered, step- or other) at any point in the future.”
Here are the results of the survey along with some commentary. Commentary in BLACK are the opinions of Childfree Family. Commentary in RED are those of the surveyor.
|Gender and Gender Identity||# of Participants||% of Participants|
Gender & Gender Identity: Seeing females dominate a survey on Reddit is a little surprising given that the typical breakdown of Reddit is 69% (male) to 31% (female) per one study. This does provide insight that non-male individuals are heavily invested in the topic of being childfree at almost 5 to 1.
|Sexual Orientation||# of Participants||% of Participants|
Sexual Orientation: It may be surprising to some to see a near 50/50 split between Heterosexuality and LGBTQ+. At Childfree Family, we already recognized the diversity of our demographic. We are proud that a childfree person cannot be simply typecast. It is validating to see that here.
Country of Birth*
|Country of Birth||# of Participants||% of Participants|
*The Top-20 from a list of over 120.
This list encompassed over 90% of the participants.
Current Living Area
|Region||# of Participants||% of Participants|
Location Data: It’s great to see the international response to this survey. Though, the question is where you were born and not where you currently live. Hopefully they will add that to the survey next year.
The breakdown of Rural/Suburban/Urban is not too out of the norm. As found in an article by Bloomberg, people in the US describe their neighborhoods as: Rural 21%, Suburban 52%, and Urban 27%. The 7% swing from Rural to Urban here may simply be due to the source of the survey (Reddit users).
"The location responses are largely similar to the 2019 survey with a majority of participants living in a suburban and urban area. 86.24% of participants in the 2020 survey live in urban and suburban regions, with 86.7% of participants living in urban and suburban regions in the 2019 survey. There is likely a multifactorial reason for this, encompassing the younger, educated skew of participants and the easier access to universities and employment, and the fact that a majority of the population worldwide localises [sic] to urban centres [sic]. There may be an element of increased progressive social viewpoints and identities in urban regions, however this would need to be explored further from a sociological perspective to draw any definitive conclusions.
A majority of our participants (57.47%) were born in the USA. The United Kingdom (7.6%), Canada (7.17%), Australia (3.58%) and Germany (2.17%) encompass the next 4 most popular responses. This is largely consistent with the responses in the 2019 survey."
|Ethnicity||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|American Indian or Alaskan Native||18||0.35%|
|Arabic/Middle Eastern/Near Eastern||34||0.66%|
|Indigenous Australian/Torres Straight Islander/Maori||8||0.16%|
|Jewish (the ethnicity, not religion)||50||0.98%|
Ethnicity may also be skewed based on the source. Statistics on Reddit as a whole form a 2016 study show a distribution by ethnicity as: 70% White/Non-Hispanic, 12% Hispanic, 11% Other/Non-Hispanic, and 7% Black/non-Hispanic.
"The demographics remain largely consistent with the 2019 survey. However, the 2019 survey collected demographic responses from all participants in the survey, removing those who did not identify as childfree when querying subreddit specific questions, while the 2020 survey only collected responses from people who identified as childfree. This must be considered when comparing results.
82.25% of the participants are under 35, compared with 85% of the subreddit in the 2019 survey. A slight downward trend is noted compared over the last two years suggesting the userbase may be getting older on average. 73.04% of the subreddit identify as female, compared with 71.54% in the 2019 survey. Again, when compared with the 2019 survey, this suggests a slight increase in the number of members who identify as female. This is in contrast to the overall membership of Reddit, estimated at 74% male according to Reddit's Wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit#Users_and_moderators]. The ratio of members who identify as heterosexual remained consistent, from 54.89% in the 2019 survey to 55.20% in the 2020 survey.
Ethnicity wise, 77% of members identified as primarily Caucasian, consistent with the 2019 results. While the ethnicities noted to be missing in the 2019 survey have been included in the 2020 survey, some users noted the difficulty of responding when fitting multiple ethnicities, and this will be addressed in the 2021 survey."
Highest Level Achieved
|Highest Current Level of Education||Participants #||Percentage|
|Did Not Complete High School*||137||2.68%|
|Graduated High School / GED||559||10.92%|
|Trade / Technical / Vocational Training||214||4.18%|
|Some College / University||1,170||22.85%|
*Also includes : “Did not complete Elementary School”
|Degree (Major)||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|I don’t have a degree or a major||1,028||20.12%|
|Arts and Humanities||794||15.54%|
|Business and Economics||422||8.26%|
|Medicine and Allied Health||352||6.89%|
Education falls in line with what we expected to see from this survey – with over 87% of respondents receiving education beyond High School (Note: 6% of respondents report being 18 or younger – hence may still be in school).
The Breakdown of Degree/Major is an interesting nugget of information. Other than the spike at Arts & Humanities and the lull at Architecture, the fields are spaced out pretty evenly.
"As it did in the 2019 survey, this section highlights the stereotype of childfree people as being well educated. 2.64% of participants did not complete high school, which is a slight decrease from the 2019 survey, where 4% of participants did not graduate high school. However, 6.02% of participants are under 18, compared with 8.22% in the 2019 survey. 55% of participants have a bachelors [sic] degree or higher, while an additional 23% have completed "some college or university".
At the 2020 survey, the highest percentage of responses under the: What is your degree/major? question fell under "I don't have a degree or a major" (20.12%). Arts and Humanities, and Computer Science have overtaken Health Sciences and Engineering as the two most popular majors. However, the list of majors was pared down to general fields of study rather than highly specific degree majors to account for the significant diversity in majors studied by the childfree community, which may account for the different results."
Career & Finances
Top-10 Work Industries
|Industry||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Education / Teaching||209||4.41%|
|Admin & Clerical||154||3.25%|
|Restaurant – Food Service||148||3.12%|
|Income||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|$0 to $14,999||851||21.37%|
|$15,000 to $29,999||644||16.17%|
|$30,000 to $59,999||1,331||33.42%|
|$60,000 to $89,999||673||16.90%|
|$90,000 to $119,999||253||6.35%|
|$120,000 to $149,999||114||2.86%|
|$150,000 to $179,999||51||1.28%|
|$180,000 to $209,999||25||0.63%|
|$210,000 to $239,999||9||0.23%|
|$240,000 to $269,999||10||0.25%|
|$270,000 to $299,999||7||0.18%|
|$300,000 or more||15||0.38%|
Notes: 1065 participants decided not to disclose their income brackets.
In the previous section, Degree/Major, the top Degrees were in Computer Science & Arts and Humanities is no surprise that IT and Healthcare are in the top spots for work industry.
We are pleased to see that Education/Teaching comes in at 3rd to help bust the myth that childfree people don’t care about children.
Income: This might be the biggest area of concern in regards to accuracy. Due to COVID-19 and many businesses shut down temporarily or permanently. This could easily skew the figures.
Another issue that was raised is that the base unit for this category is $ (USD). One comment made is that they had to convert their income to USD to provide an answer. Even though in their country they have a very comfortable living on their salary, when converted to USD, they fell on the lower end of the spectrum.
We wish there was a little more information provided in the retirement plan section. The numbers may easily be skewed based on age and access to a retirement plan.
"Note that 'other', 'I'm a student', 'currently unemployed' and 'I'm out of the work force for health or other reasons' have been disregarded for this part of the evaluation.
Out of the 3729 participants active in the workforce, the majority (1824 or 48.91%) work between 40-50 hours per week with 997 or 26.74% working 30-40 hours weekly. 6.62% work 50 hours or more per week, and 17.73% less than 30 hours.
513 or 10.13% are engaged in managerial responsibilities (ranging from Jr. to Sr. Management).
On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the overwhelming majority (3340 or 70%) indicated that career plays a very important role in their lives, attributing a score of 7 and higher."
"The highest percentage of participants at 21.61% listed themselves as trained professionals.
One of the stereotypes of the childfree is of wealth. However this is not demonstrated in the survey results. 70.95% of participants earn under $60,000 USD per annum, while 87.85% earn under $90,000 per annum. 21.37% are earning under $15,000 per annum. 1065 participants, or 21.10% chose not to disclose this information. It is possible that this may have skewed the results if a significant proportion of these people were our high income earners, but impossible to explore.
A majority of our participants work between 30 and 50 hours per week (75.65%) which is slightly increased from the 2019 survey, where 71.2% of participants worked between 30 and 50 hours per week."
Working With Children
|Work interaction with children||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|No, I do not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis||4,493||87.81%|
|Yes, I do have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis||291||5.69%|
|I’m a student and my future job/career will heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis||67||1.30%|
|I’m unemployed, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis||112||2.19%|
|I’m retired, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis||6||0.12%|
When it comes to working with children, the expected numbers are easily shown here with over 87% “not heavily interacting with children on a daily basis at their job.”
But we can’t read too much into that – it could be said that the vast majority of jobs have little interaction with children in the first place. Children are in school while adults go to their jobs. So of course the overlap is minimal.
It is inconclusive from this data to know if a person to would specifically NOT work at a job that interacts with children.
Religion & Spirituality
Top-10 Shown (over 50 responses)
This Top-10 amounts to 95.05% of the total participants.
|Faith||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion in the upbringing)||958||18.73%|
Top-10 Shown (over 50 responses)
This top 10 amounts to 94.65% of the total participants.
|Faith||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion currently)||1,344||26.33%|
Level of Current Religious Practice
|Level||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Wholly secular/non religious||3,733||73.73%|
|Identify with religion, but don’t practice strictly||557||11.00%|
|Lapsed/not serious/in name only||393||7.76%|
|Observant at home only||199||3.93%|
|Observant at home. Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance||125||2.47%|
|Strictly observant, Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance, religious practice/prayer/worship impacting daily life||56||1.11%|
Religion: To us, the big takeaways from these figures are that Catholicism sees a HUGE drop over time from 1,573 to 96. Anglicanism, Hinduism, Islam, & Judaism fall out of the Top-10 entirely. While Paganism, Satanism, Spiritualism, and Wicca move into the Top-10.
The swaps may be due more to the bolstering of the ranks in “None” and “Atheism” which grew by 7.6% and 30% respectively. It will be interesting to see how religions choose to interact with people who are childfree in the future.
Though it is important to note the “Effect of childfreedom on religious practice” shows there is very little correlation in being childfree and having/not having a religion.
"For the 2020 survey Christianity (the most popular result in 2019) was split into it's major denominations, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, among others. This appears to be a linguistic/location difference that caused a lot of confusion among some participants. However, Catholicism at 30.76% remained the most popular choice for the religion participants were raised in. However, of our participant's current faith, Aetheism [sic] at 36.23% was the most popular choice. A majority of 78.02% listed their current religion as Aetheist [sic], no religious or spiritual beliefs, or Agnostic.
A majority of participants (61%) rated religion as 'not at all influential' to the childfree choice. This is consistent with the 2019 survey where 62.8% rated religion as 'not at all influential'. Despite the high percentage of participants who identify as aetheist [sic] or agnostic, this does not appear to be related to or have an impact on the childfree choice. "
Current Dating Status
|Status||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Single and not looking||1,324||25.81%|
|Single and dating around, but not looking for anything serious||213||4.15%|
|Single and dating around, looking for something serious||365||7.12%|
|Short term relationship||107||2.09%|
|Long term relationship, living together||1,031||20.10%|
|Long term relationship, not living with together||512||9.98%|
The two big areas here are “Single and not looking” (25.81%) and “Married” (23.98%) which combined make up almost half the respondents.
We feel these two factors show a level of stability within the childfree ranks. Either people are happy doing their own thing or they have found someone they want to spend their life with.
Even “Long term relationship, living together” (20.10%) shows stability with childfree people.
While it may be tricky to find the right person to be with, when a person is childfree. It seems that childfree people exude confidence in following their own path and if a partnership is found they tend to be stable.
Depending on the source, it is said that 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Looking at these figures: Separated (0.35%) and Divorce (0.90%), it appears that childfree people form solid relationships with their partners.
Dating and Childfree Preference
Is your partner childfree?
|Partner||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|I don’t have a partner||1,922||37.56%|
|I have more than one partner and none are childfree||3||0.06%|
|I have more than one partner and some are childfree||35||0.68%|
|I have more than one partner and they are all childfree||50||0.98|
It is no surprise that being childfree is a definite principle in a person’s life. Therefore finding someone with that same outlook would be the most desirable base to forming a relationship. Shown here at over 51% of the respondents having a partner who is also childfree.
Would you be willing to dating a single parent?
|Answer||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|No, I’m not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life||4,610||90.13%|
|Yes, but only if it’s a short term arrangement of some sort||162||3.17%|
|Yes, whether for long term or short term, but with some conditions (must not have child custody, no kid talk, etc.), as long as I like them and long as we’re compatible||199||3.89%|
|Yes, whether for long term or short term, with no conditions, as long as I like them and as long as we are compatible||144||2.82%|
Regarding the previous question, “Is your partner childfree?” The respondents that said “No” totaled 9.26%.
The question here, “No, I’m not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life” just seems to solidify the previous response as it was selected over 90% of the time.
The consistency here shows that a childfree person is highly likely to search-out another childfree person for a relationship 9 out of 10 times.
"60.19% of our participants are in a relationship at the time of the survey. This is consistent with the 2019 survey, where 60.7% of our participants were in a relationship. A notable proportion of our participants are listed as single and not looking (25.81%) which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Considering the frequent posts seeking dating advice as a childfree person, it is surprising that such a high proportion of the participants are not actively seeking out a relationship. Unsurprisingly 90.13% of our participants would not consider dating someone with children. 84% of participants with partners of some kind have at least one childfree partner. This is consistent with the often irreconcilable element of one party desiring children and the other wishing to abstain from having children."
|Sterilization Status||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Yes. I am sterilized||625||12.20%|
|No. However, I’ve been approved for the procedure and I’m waiting for the date to arrive||86||1.68%|
|No. I want to be sterilized but I have started looking for a doctor/requested the procedure||594||11.59%|
|No. I want to be sterilized but I haven’t started looking for a doctor/requested the procedure yet||2,317||45.21%|
|No, I am not sterilized and, for medical, practical or other reasons, I do not need to be||869||16.96%|
|No. I am not sterilized and don’t want to be||634||12.37%|
Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing sterilization with doctor.*
|Age group||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|18 or younger||207||12.62%|
|19 to 24||588||35.85%|
|25 to 29||510||31.10%|
|30 to 34||242||14.76%|
|35 to 39||77||4.70%|
|40 to 44||9||0.55%|
|45 to 49||5||0.30%|
|50 to 54||1||0.06%|
*Excluding those who do not want to be sterilized and who have not discussed sterilization with their doctor.
Age at the time of sterilization.*
|Age group||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|18 or younger||5||0.79%|
|19 to 24||123||19.34%|
|25 to 29||241||37.89%|
|30 to 34||168||26.42%|
|35 to 39||74||11.64%|
|40 to 44||19||2.99%|
|45 to 49||1||0.16%|
|50 to 54||2||0.31%|
*Excluding those who have not and do not want to be sterilized.
Elapsed time between requesting procedure and undergoing procedure.*
|Time||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Less than 3 months||330||50.46%|
|Between 3 and 6 months||111||16.97%|
|Between 6 and 9 months||33||5.05%|
|Between 9 and 12 months||20||3.06%|
|Between 12 and 18 months||22||3.36%|
|Between 18 and 24 months||15||2.29%|
|Between 24 and 30 months||6||0.92%|
|Between 30 and 36 months||2||0.31%|
|Between 3 and 5 years||40||6.12%|
|Between 5 and 7 years||25||3.82%|
|More than 7 years||50||7.65%|
*Excluding those who have not and do not want to be sterilized.
Of those seeking sterilization: How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?
|Doctor||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|First doctor I asked said yes||604||71.73%|
|Second doctor I asked said yes||93||11.05%|
|Third doctor I asked said yes||54||6.41%|
|Fourth doctor I asked said yes||29||3.44%|
|Fifth doctor I asked said yes||12||1.43%|
|Sxth doctor I asked said yes||8||0.95%|
|Seventh doctor I asked said yes||10||1.19%|
|Eighth doctor I asked said yes||4||0.48%|
|Ninth doctor I asked said yes||2||0.24%|
|More than 10 doctors before one said yes||26||3.09%|
Sterilization is a hot topic within the childfree community. This line of questions shows the desire and difficulty for many to achieve this goal.
The final question, “How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?” is the most telling. Almost 30% of the respondents had to seek out a 2nd doctor or more to get the procedure.
It will be interesting to see this area of questions in future surveys. The conversations we see most in social media and blogs tend to hover around the resistance a person (usually a woman) receives when asking about sterilization from a medical professional.
"While just under half of our participants wish to be sterilised [sic], 45.21%, only 12.2% have been successful in achieving sterilisation [sic]. This is likely due to overarching resistance from the medical profession however other factors such as the logistical elements of surgery and the cost may also contribute. There is a slight increase from the percentage of participants sterilised [sic] in the 2019 survey (11.7%). 29.33% of participants do not wish to be or need to be sterilised [sic] suggesting a partial element of satisfaction from temporary birth control methods or non-necessity of contraception due to their current lifestyle practices. Participants who indicated that they do not wish to be sterilised [sic] or haven't achieved sterilisation [sic] were excluded from the percentages where necessary in this section.
Of the participants who did achieve sterilisation [sic], a majority began the search between 19 and 29, with the highest proportion being in the 19-24 age group (35.85%) This is a marked increase from the 2019 survey where 27.3% of people who started the search were between 19-24. This may be due to increased education about permanent contraception or possibly due to an increase in instability around world events.
The majority of participants who sought out and were successful at achieving sterilisation [sic], were however in the 25-29 age group (37.9%). This is consistent with the 2019 survey results.
The time taken between seeking out sterilisation [sic] and achieving it continues to increase, with only 50.46% of participants achieving sterilisation [sic] in under 3 months. This is a decline from the number of participants who achieved sterilisation [sic] in 3 months in the 2019 survey (58.5%). A potential cause of this decrease is to Covid-19 shutdowns in the medical industry leading to an increase in procedure wait times. The proportion of participants who have had one or more doctors refuse to perform the procedure has stayed consistent between the two surveys."
Primary Reason to Not Have Children
|Reason||# of Participants||% of Participants|
|Lack of interest towards parenthood (“I don’t want to raise children”)||2,293||44.69%|
|Aversion towards children (“I don’t like children”)||1,455||28.36%|
|Tokophobia (aversion/fear of pregnancy and/or chidlbirth)||291||5.67%|
|Philosophical / Moral (e.g. antinatalism)||193||3.76%|
|Environmental (including overpopulation)||158||3.08%|
|Current state of the world||110||2.14%|
|I already raised somebody else who isn’t my child||83||1.62%|
|Medical (“I have a condition that makes conceiving/bearing/birthing children difficult, dangerous or lethal”)||65||1.27%|
|Eugenics (“I have ‘bad genes'”)||57||1.11%|
|Maybe interested for parenthood, but not suited for parenthood||48||0.94%|
There are a number of reasons people choose not to have a child. Unsurprisingly, the top answer here is simply, “I don’t want to raise children” (44.69%).
The verbiage in the 2nd most popular question seems important. The word “Aversion” is used, not “Hate”, which is an unfair characteristic given to childfree people by others. Just because someone doesn’t like children, it doesn’t mean they “hate” them or “wish them harm”.
Respondents to the survey also seemed lean towards having a “Happy Childhood” with 2,575 selecting a score of 7 or greater v/s 1,486 selecting a score of 4 or lower.
This would help dispel the myth that people are childfree because they had an unhappy childhood.
"The main reasons for people choosing the childfree lifestyle are a lack of interest towards parenthood and an aversion towards children which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Of the people surveyed 67.06% are pet owners or involved in a pet's care, suggesting that this lack of interest towards parenthood does not necessarily mean a lack of interest in all forms of caretaking. The community skews towards a dislike of children overall which correlates well with the 87.81% of users choosing 'no, I do not have, did not use to have and will not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis' in answer to, 'do you have a job that heavily makes you interact with children on a daily basis?'. This is an increase from the 2019 survey.
A vast majority of the subreddit identifes [sic] as pro-choice (95.5%), a slight increase from the 2019 results. This is likely due to a high level of concern about bodily autonomy and forced birth/parenthood. However only 55.93% support financial abortion, aka for the non-pregnant person in a relationship to sever all financial and parental ties with a child. This is a marked decrease from the 2019 results, where 70% of participants supported financial abortion.
Most of our users realised [sic] that did not want children young. 58.72% of participants knew they did not want children by the age of 18, with 95.37% of users realising [sic] this by age 30. This correlates well with the age distribution of participants. Despite this early realisation [sic] of our childfree stance, 80.59% of participants have been 'bingoed' at some stage in their lives."