There have been childless women almost as long as there as there have been women, if you count Eve as Numero Uno, at least. The early ones seem to have all been without kids by chance, leaving them in varying stages of heartbreak and damage. As far as we know, that is.
From Year 1 to…about 5 minutes ago, it wasn’t quite the thing to say that you never, ever wanted children. And, birth control being what it was centuries ago, if you liked sex, choice about childbearing wasn’t a viable option anyway.
So, now that childfree women are boosting the total numbers of women without children, how does that change the long view of America’s NotMoms? According to a 2013 report from AARP, in 2010, 11.6% of American women age 80 to 84 were NotMoms. By 2030, not really that far away, their number is estimated to reach 16%…and keep growing.
As with all things, thumbs go up and down about this news. As the NY Times reports, childless adults are developing new styles of housing arrangements and actively extending the definition of “family” to include friends, neighbors and other close connections. They are creative about what to do with their estates, researching charities and establishing foundations.
The bad news from AARP affects everyone, parents and child-free alike. The report found there were 7 potential caregivers for every person over 80 years old in 2010. That ratio drops to 4 to 1 by 2030. It falls to 3 to 1 by 2050. Who will care for childless adults? A better question may be, Who will care for anyone who lives to 80+?
Parents may resist that line of thinking, and so the Times added this finding from a 2012 study by Fidelity Investments:
Only 3% of 975 parents surveyed believe their children would take care of them if they became ill.
It would seem that in the Real World, each of us stands as the A Team to count on when the fecal matter hits the blower. The importance of completing paperwork and conversations to determine advocates and actions for future financial, legal and health concerns isn’t lost on the ladies in their 80’s in the NY Times story. Are the rest of us as smart? I confess that I am not. Yet. How about you?