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Abstract

Decisions about whether to have or rear children, as well as perceptions of people who choose not to parent are linked to a variety of social processes and identities. We review literature from a variety of disciplines that focuses on voluntarily childless adults. Early research in this area, emerging in the 1970s, focused almost exclusively on heterosexual women and utilized a childless rather than a childfree framework. Later work saw a shift to a “childless-by-choice” or “childfree” framework, emphasizing that for some, not being parents is an active choice rather than an accident. While more recent research includes lesbian women and gay and heterosexual men, greater diversity within studies of adults without children is one suggested focus for future work in this area.