The Un-dependents: In Profile

Our latest report shines a light on the people consciously choosing to not have children. Here’s why it’s time to celebrate…

In most developed countries, the number of people not having children by choice is rising. We are seeing this in how birth-rates are plummeting in European countries, while New Zealand’s sunk to its lowest ever level. In 2021, China’s birth-rate fell for a fifth consecutive year. 

Climate anxiety, a global recession, the pandemic, and conflict in Europe are perspective-shaping events causing people to question whether to have children. “Why have kids?” is being asked. There are reports of Gen Z who are looking at the world, and deciding they simply don’t want to have children.

The stigma – and silence – around the decision is being replaced by curiosity about how it changes what it means to live a full and happy life. That it can be an aspirational choice, as people have gone from having to explain or justify it to celebratory: we now say child-free not child-less.

37%of Britons say that they never want to have children

(YouGov, 2020)

27%of Gen Z women in the US report not wanting to have kids

(Ruby Home survey, 2022)

All this points to a change that’s happening at pace. We’re seeing the consciously child-free enjoying the profound – and joyful – opportunities their choice allows them. The shrugging off of a prescriptive label that comes with being a parent and how it can bring with it freedom to choose their own roles. We wanted to understand this audience, and to learn how their reality can be reflected back to them.

This feature is based on our report, The Un-dependents, download the full version here.

Meet The Un-dependents


While researching for our recent report, The Un-dependents (which included interviewing people in the US, UK and Europe about why they chose to not have kids), we heard from people from very different backgrounds about what impact being consciously child-free can have on their lives: from freedom to take on roles not so heavily curated by society; to being able to choose who can be dependent on you (it may be other people’s children but the choice is theirs); and freedom to choose where to show up with financial or emotional resources. 

On being asked about not having kids, a New Yorker told us: “I don’t want to be anyone’s wife or mother. I want to own me”. Meanwhile, the growing #childcommunity online – with its celebration, humour and knowing winks – acknowledges that the legacy stigma against being child-free is lifting.  The child-free are turning to each other to explore interests and their shared values. As a 32-year-old digital nomad told us. “I travel the world, and seek out advice and inspiration from my child-free community.”


“I don’t want to be anyone’s wife or mother. I want to own me.” US interviewee, 47

Disrupting Roles 


We learned that deciding to not have children can mean Disrupting Roles by diverting from a ‘traditional’ life path; leaning into Altruism as time is put into helping others and placing importance on Community as ‘family’ is found elsewhere. 

Our interviewees are able to more closely align their job and lifestyle with their values. A conservationist working across Scotland told us: “Being a father would mean I didn’t have time to travel the country and commit to my nature preservation work”.

A woman living in Amsterdam said: “Because I don’t have children, I have the time to nurture the feminist queer community I live in”. In North America, we heard: “For the African diaspora there is the message that motherhood is an act of service… but I choose to nurture this community in other ways. Me being a martyr doesn’t help anyone.”


A Bold Way Of Living

It was fascinating to learn more about the Un-dependents. Perhaps even more salient, our interviewees were happy to be asked about a part of their identity that is so important to them.

As we heard from a 48-year-old from the US: “People can see that I live a life of joy.” Being child-free is not up for debate, it isn’t just a stop on the journey. Being consciously child-free is for life.

This feature is based on our report, The Un-dependents, download the full version here.

"People can see that I live a life of joy" US interviewee, 48