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Barren Britain

childless woman
An international study has found that women in Britain are among the most likely in the world to end up without children.  Are you one of those women?

Some 19 per cent arrive at the menopause childless – a figure exceeded by only three countries in Europe.

Experts believe the Barren Britain phenomenon could have arisen because until recently women here were far more likely to pursue careers than those in the rest of Europe, meaning that many of us have put off having children until too late.

Some people say that the blame lies with the rise of feminism in the 1970’s and 1980’s, leaving a generation of women sacrificing family in the name of equality. But the report shows that when British women do have children, they are likely to have more than those in other countries.

The extent of Barren Britain is revealed in a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations. Researchers looked at women in 24 countries who were born in 1965 – meaning they went through their formative years during the 1970’s heyday of feminism and entered their careers during the power-suited 1980’s, when increasing numbers of women put career ambition before traditional family values.

All are now around 46, so most will have finished their reproductive careers and some will be entering the menopause.

The findings show that at this stage of life, rates of childlessness in the UK – 19 per cent – are beaten only by Italy’s 24 per cent, and 20 per cent in Germany and Finland. Far fewer women in France ended up childless – just 10 per cent of those born in 1965.  In Portugal, 5 per cent had no children, compared with 12 per cent in Spain and 16 per cent in Australia and the United States.

A separate OECD report last year concluded that women in Britain leave it later than those in any other country to have their first child, giving birth for the first time at an average age of 30.

The latest statistics, in a report called Doing Better For Families, show that 23 per cent of British women have one child, 39 per cent have two and 30 per cent have three or more.  The proportion with three or more was exceeded only in the U.S., Sweden, Australia, Norway and France.

Were you born in the 1960’s and preferred to opt for a career rather than having children?  Did you leave trying to conceive too late and regret not having a family?  How have you coped?  The team at Real Women Today would really love to hear your story.


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