The Public Acceptance of Voluntary Childlessness in the Netherlands: from 20 to 90 per cent in 30 years

Soc Indic Res. 2010 Oct;99(1):163-181. doi: 10.1007/s11205-010-9574-y. Epub 2010 Jan 16.


Within a relatively short period of 30 years, public acceptance of voluntary childlessness has increased enormously in the Netherlands. In this paper, we address two research questions, which we answer with data from 13 waves of the repeated cross-sectional survey Cultural Change in the Netherlands (CCN, 1965-1996). First, we investigate to what extent the increasing permissiveness is due to cohort replacement and to intra-cohort change. We find that between 1965 and 1980 the change is primarily due to intra-cohort (period) effects, whereas cohort replacement has become more important since 1980. Second, we address the question which social categories constitute the 10% of the population who do not accept voluntary childlessness. Church attendance-and not religiosity or religious socialization-turns out to be the most important factor. Low levels of income and education also negatively affect the acceptance of voluntary childless.