Toward a Sense of Immortality
During the decade of the 1970s we witnessed a revolution in sex roles and family patterns in the United States and western Europe. Whereas, in previous eras, the locus of social change had been the church or factory, during the 1970s it was closer to home—indeed, within the very heart of the family itself. So many changes took place in such a short period of time, in fact, that it is difficult to list them all. Of primary importance was the increasing participation of women in education and work outside the home (Hoffman, 1977). Of equal and related significance was the transformation in attitudes and behavior in the area of reproduction. For example, there was a tendency in the 1970s for women to begin childbearing at a later age than in the 1960s (United States Bureau of the Census, 1981). Fewer children were born per family and birth rates reached their lowest points during that decade (National Center for Health Statistics, 1981). The children that were born were spaced more closely together, so that women would ultimately spend a smaller portion of their lives as childbearers or childrearers. Consistent with these trends there was an unprecedented increase in the rate of voluntary childlessness—the proportion of women of childbearing age who remained childless out of choice, rather than because of infertility (United States Bureau of the Census, 1981). Large-scale surveys and census data for that period suggested to some researchers that the proportion of women choosing to remain childless would be as high as 30% by the year 2000 (Westoff, 1978).
KeywordsTubal Ligation Childless Woman United States Bureau Current Population Report Childless Couple
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