Presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Sociological Association.
To date, much of the research on adults without children has either focused exclusively on women or has utilized a childless as opposed to a childfree framework, thus emphasizing an absence rather than the presence of a conscious decision not to have children. In this article, we examine the processes by which adult women and men come to decide not to have or rear children. Study participants identify as childfree rather than childless. Our analysis of data from qualitative interviews with 31 women and 14 men reveals that two themes dominate in adults’ descriptions of their decision not to have children: 1) that the decision was a decidedly conscious decision and 2) that the decision occurred as a process as opposed to a singular event. We describe the features of these two themes and consider their gendered dimensions as well as their social consequences.