More people are choosing not to have children in a climate crisis because of “eco-anxiety”. This is according to a review into “reproductive decision-making” (whether or not to have kids).
Eco-anxiety is the stress, anger, dread, or guilt that people feel about the climate crisis. According to the review, one study found more than half of 16 to 25-year-olds have eco-anxiety.
Another study quoted in the report found two in five 16 to 25-year-olds were reluctant to have kids due to climate change.
The review, published in PLOS Climate, included findings from almost 11,000 participants across 13 different studies.
It included several studies that showed a significant negative correlation between concerns about the climate crisis and having a child.
For example, a third of 20 to 45-year-olds surveyed in 2018 said they do not plan to have kids due to climate anxiety.
A U.S.-based survey in 2020 asked respondents why they were reluctant to have children. One said, “I don’t want to birth children into a dying world”.
Another told researchers, “I cannot produce another person that will continue to destroy the planet”.
Lead researcher Hope Dillarstone said more young people were concerned about how “growing up in a world of uncertainty” could impact a child.
Other environmental reasons included “uncertainty” about the future, “ecological footprint”, and concerns about population and consumption rates.
The study found those in developed countries including Australia, Norway, and the U.S. were more likely to consider not raising children in a climate crisis.
However, it attributed this in part to the “ability or privilege” that people living in developed nations have over reproductive decision-making, like access to contraception.
In developing countries, it found limited access to contraception “competed” with people wanting less children.
Research shows that eco-anxiety is less likely to impact reproductive decisions in developing countries. However, climate concerns in Zambia and Ethiopia meant some people were having fewer children than they wanted as they were unable to provide for bigger families.
Other responses found that the impacts of drought on farming businesses were leading to some families having more children. This is because children can contribute to household
incomes amid an uncertain future.