Childless or Childfree as the Choice: Solution to Overpopulation or Part of Popular Culture?

Childfree news has mushroomed in Indonesian mass media and social media. Many people dismissed this idea as insane and bullied those who chose it, but some people agreed with it. The debate over childfree living is now a hot topic in Indonesia, not only among religious or conservative communities, but also among millennial and Generation Z, who have surpassed the elderly as the majority of the Indonesian population. If we look at the history and terminology of the childfree or childless option, we will see that it is not only raised these days.

The concept of being childfree or childless is not new in our society. Since the 1970s, a feminist writer, Ellen Peck, has discussed it in her book “The Baby Trap”, in which she stated that being childfree is not an argument against parenthood, but rather a lifestyle choice. Ellen also provided a rationale example and a correlation between high population density, family bonding, cultural aspects, and societal environmental conditions that may have an impact on the new born child or new generation. She also emphasized that having children is a result of social pressures and cultural coercion that must be fulfilled.

Does ‘Childfree’ Concept Aimed to Control Population?

There has been a surge of interest in the concept of controlling the world’s population in recent decades. Some scientists believe that increasing the world’s population will have a greater impact on environmental conditions in the future, potentially influencing climate change and ecological disruption. There are numerous benefits and drawbacks to controlling overpopulation, but current data on the world’s population shows that there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet, with a potential increase to 9.7 billion by 2050 and a peak of 11 billion by 2100. This massive influx will have a significant impact on the population’s ability to access healthcare and education systems, as well as their reliance on natural resources and environmental quality.

Concerning the issue of overpopulation, China, the world’s most populous country, has enacted a “One-Child-Policy” to slow the country’s rapid population growth. This action is being taken as a result of the contribution of an age structure that benefited the economy; the large working-age population born before and after it grew rapidly in comparison to the country’s younger and older dependent populations. Furthermore, the decision to be ‘childless’ or ‘childfree’ may have an impact on an individual’s mental and psychological health. According to a study published in the PlosOne journal by Jennifer Neal and Zachary Neal, deciding to be a childfree adult can affect their psychosocial condition, and there are no such gaps in life satisfaction between childfree individuals and parents, not-yet-parents, or even childless individuals. Childfree people, for example, were more liberal than parents, and those who have or want(ed) children felt significantly less warm toward childfree people than childfree people felt toward each other.

The Views of Indonesian Millennial and Generation Z on Childfree

In a country where beliefs and traditional practices are still important, being childless and childfree – whether for personal reasons or not – is often looked down upon. Many people are perplexed as to why some people choose to be childless or childfree. People who open up about their childlessness or childfree status on social media are frequently bullied and mocked by others. Not only that, but others continue to assume that individual who make the childless or childfree choice are primarily concerned with financial capital, ignoring religious values or ancestor culture.

Despite the many opinions and perceptions of others who oppose childless or childfree options, some Indonesian millennial and generation Z remain steadfast in their decision. The decision to be childless or childfree is made after careful consideration of financial and mental concerns, physical and mental capacity, and other factors. Of course, they must persuade the rest of the family not to oppose this decision. Furthermore, it is undeniable that childless or childfree lifestyles are gaining popularity these days. Victoria Tunggono, an Indonesian writer, captured this phenomenon in her book “Childfree and Happy”. By writing this book, she hoped to demonstrate that being childless or childfree is not a bad choice, but she wanted to explain that it comes directly from individual and logical thought, rather than causing debate or propaganda within society.

Finally, the reason for not having children is obviously a personal choice, just like religion or any other fundamental decision made by a person that cannot be interfered with or influenced by others. All we can do is respect that decision. But, of course, there are always consequences or risks associated with any decision.

Lengga Pradipta
Lengga Pradipta
A human ecology researcher in Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). Having interests on environmental justice, natural resources management and gender issue.