A voluntarily childless identity is a pertinent aspect in the discussion of family formations and non-reproduction. While childlessness describes a person or couple who does not have children, voluntary childlessness is characterized by a choice, commitment, and permanence regarding the decision not to parent. Voluntary childlessness is a burgeoning lifestyle choice that is also becoming increasingly vocal through a growing international social movement that has emerged to provide support and connect like-minded people. In 1973, Veevers' paper 'Voluntary childlessness: A neglected area of family study' described the voluntarily childless as receiving 'selective inattention'. Since, there has been considerable research examining voluntary childlessness. This paper reviews the literature on voluntary childlessness by examining four central debates: (1) who chooses to be childless; (2) why do individuals choose voluntary childlessness; (3) what are the consequences of voluntary childlessness; and, (4) stigmatization of voluntary childlessness and the response to stigma. In so doing, this paper reviews diverse literature and critically discusses the underlying assumptions of the field.
How to Cite
Shapiro, G., (2014) “Voluntary childlessness: A critical review of the literature”, Studies in the Maternal 6(1), 1-15. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/sim.9