A study out of Michigan State University found that one in five adults in the state weren't planning on ever having children, a considerable number that only highlights the country's significantly slowing birth rates over the last couple of years.
Particularly interesting was a more zoomed-in finding: that childless couples had no more regrets later in life than parents, contradicting a commonly cited concern.
The findings also underline troubling new developments when it comes to the right to reproductive healthcare in the country, with people potentially being forced to birth children against their wishes after the reversal of Roe v Wade.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, examined data from a survey of 1,000 adults and found that "20.9 percent of adults in Michigan do not want children, which closely matches our earlier estimate of 21.6 percent, and means that over 1.6 million people in Michigan are child-free," said co-author Jennifer Watling Neal, MSU psychology professor, in a statement.
"Michigan is demographically similar to the United States as a whole, so this could mean 50 million to 60 million Americans are child-free," she added.
The researchers also found that the trend applied across demographics.
"Many adults are child-free, and there do not seem to be differences by age, education or income," said Zachary Neal, associate professor of psychology at MSU and co-author of the study, in the statement. "However, being child-free is somewhat more common among adults who identify as male, white or who have always been single."
Importantly, those who chose not to have kids had very few regrets, if any.
"We found no evidence that older child-free adults experience any more life regret than older parents," Watling Neal said.
The desire to have children is an extremely relevant topic these days, particularly because of a changing political landscape, resulting in sometimes severe restrictions being placed on access to reproductive healthcare in certain states.
"States’ restrictions on reproductive health care may result in many people being forced to have children despite not wanting them, which is very concerning," Neal said in the statement.
The team is now investigating how abortion restrictions could affect people's choice to not have children, particularly outside of Michigan.
More on reproductive rights: Floating Abortion Clinic Proposed in Gulf of Mexico to Circumvent Bans