The Un-dependents: Q&A

It’s a revolutionary act to not have children, says author and guest at our Freedom webinar, Ruby Warrington, whose book shows how this group will reshape the world we live in…

The author Ruby Warrington’s latest book was originally going to be about her personal decision not to have kids but she quickly realised “being child-free is going to be one of the biggest social trends we will see as a global society.”

Women Without Kids: The Revolutionary Rise Of An Unsung Sisterhood zooms out to show what this will look like, and was published at the same time as Crowd DNA’s report, The Un-dependents, on the consciously child-free. We took the opportunity to discuss this rising cohort with Ruby, and how to welcome them as consumers and active members of society… 

We talked to Ruby Warrington as part of our webinar on Freedom: bringing together new narratives around choice. Our report on being childfree is available to download here

Hi Ruby, tell us why your child-free story became so much more?
I very quickly realised that it’s going to be one of the biggest social trends we have seen as a global society. It is absolutely going to reshape the way we live. Women globally are having far fewer children, or none at all. It’s time to have a conversation about how this is going to look for individuals and society. 

In Ruby Warrington’s latest book she talks about the rising numbers of people without kids being a natural consequence of individualism

“Giving the child-free conversation the space it deserves” (Emma Gannon, Ctrl Alt Delete Podcast)

The Un-dependents, Crowd DNA report on adults who choose to not have kids

What reception has this community given Women Without Kids?
They’ve all said they feel seen, heard and understood – often for the first time. It definitely feels like something that needs to be talked about.

Why is this rising cohort coming to the surface now?
Gen X Western women are the first generation to be born following second wave feminism, which fought for effective birth control, access to abortion and to financial and career independence for women. As such, they are the first to have lived with the message from birth that becoming a mother is just one of many paths a woman’s life can take. That’s why as Gen X are ageing out of their reproductive years, we are seeing such a rise in the number of women without kids. Meanwhile, seeing these older women live fulfilling lives without children, will impact choices made by millennials and Gen Z. I think we’ll see an even steeper drop in the birth rate as a result.

So what does the freedom to make that choice look like today?
Women finally have agency over reproductive choices – but there’s nuance to that freedom, especially now. The choice to not have children may be about safeguarding physical well being or financial stability (more and more people can’t afford to have kids, especially those who live in luxury cities like New York, London or Los Angeles). The so-called ‘birth-strike’ movement is about not wanting to bring new children into the world for as long as there is no global consensus on eliminating carbon emissions. I’ve called this cohort the ‘childless by climate change.’ It’s important to consider the reasons for this life path – a lot of people choosing to not have kids is from a place of pain. 

Can brands and media start talking to this group?
Yes, we potentially have more financial resources to put into further education, travel, volunteering, home renovation, hobbies… I think brands in particular are really missing a trick not speaking to this group directly. We might not be on a conventional path that’s easy to sell to, but we are still consuming, contributing, and being active members of society. 

Ruby (centre) at a Women Without Kids retreat she hosted in New York City

You joined our Freedom webinar and talked about how not having kids will change narratives around growing older…
Yes. There’s a lot of scaremongering about the ageing population and people not having kids – who will drive the economy to support the older people? But child-free people are going to be living all sorts of different, interesting and exciting lives. We need to think about how we start to re-value human life beyond age 50, especially if kids aren’t part of the picture. How do we see older people as equally valuable?

Our interviewees in the Un-dependents report had made valuable new communities, such as in chosen family relationships…
We are now standing up against ingrained prejudice and saying, ‘we exist.’ You could call it ‘childfree pride’. I’ve just hosted a retreat for women without kids, and I think community spaces for people without children to connect will be really important in the future. 

How is acceptance increasing as more people are feeling empowered in their child-free choice?
We are really starting to see an influx of older ladies without babies who are coming into their prime and are showing what it might look like to be a woman without children. And they are powerful role models for future generations coming through. 

And finally, how can we best shift the ingrained prejudice against women who make this choice?
We need to normalise motherhood as a choice, not a biological imperative. Framing it this way allows people to opt fully in as well as to opt out – choice and freedom go hand in hand. That’s a message I want to continue to promote. 

Our report on being consciously child-free, The Un-dependents, is available to download here. For more from Ruby, visit, and buy Women Without Kids here.