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Information on the numbers of people who have voluntarily opted for a childfree life is still a little thin on the ground, despite current demographic trends which show a growth in the numbers of childfree adults in developed nations. Additionally, most current polls and studies relate only to women who have taken this option. Far less data has been published regarding men who have decided to remain childfree.
It is important to make the distinction here between being childless, and being childfree. The former term describes people who are, for whatever reason, unable to have children. The latter term represents those who have chosen a child free lifestyle. But of those who have chosen this path, how does this decision affect their lives, their relationships and their families, and what has prompted them to make this decision?
A study by Magarick and Brown (1981 Journal of Biosocial Science) looked at social and emotional aspects of childfree living for men. The study incorporated 44 vasectomised voluntarily childless men, and compared their results to those of 51 vasectomised fathers.
The study was designed to test whether those who had chosen voluntary childlessness were influenced in any way by their own childhood experiences, or their relative happiness within their relationships. The study also tested the respondents to assess whether they were affected by any type of social pathology.
The results showed that overall those who had chosen voluntary childlessness as a way of life had a greater capacity for independent thought, were less traditionalist than their counterparts in the parent group, and were more inclined toward experimentation. It is interesting to note that even as recently as 1981, choosing a childfree life was still considered to be so unusual, that the respondents mental faculties were questioned in this study.
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