Ben’s Story: Environmental concerns shaped our decision not to have children

My wife and I met at university in the 80s and have been together ever since. We were both fortunate in that we had very good jobs at the end of it, some of which took us abroad. In fact we both worked overseas for over a decade and quite enjoyed the change of scenery and made a lot of friends. We have been back in the UK for a few years now, and have spent a great deal of that time looking after my elderly parents who are not in the best of health.

We are childless by choice, although it is fair to say that it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We discussed the issue over and over again. We agonised over it and eventually made the decision to remain childless. Thankfully, our marriage has survived and so far, we have not looked back. If anything we now know that it was the right decision for us. As a couple we tend to agree on most things and it was no different in this case.

Our decision was mainly based on social and environmental concerns, specifically, the effect of population growth on the environment and future generations. These issues are very dear to both our hearts and so we did not feel that it was right to bring another human being in what we see as an already crowded world and the impact that this has on the world’s resources.

These resources are not endless and future generations may not be able to enjoy them if population growth is not curbed. And of course there is the impact on the environment, with the need for more housing, pollution, deforestation, to name but these few. I suppose you can say that we saw the bigger picture of having children and the fact that it was not just about the two of us.

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First published on May 18, 2014

Childless by choice


  1. Hi Ben, thanks for sharing your story. Population growth is an issue that my husband and I discuss too. The latest United Nations estimates predict that the world population will reach as much as 9.6 billion by the year 2050. Most of that growth will originate from the developing world, with more than half coming from Africa alone. And yes the pressure on resources is obvious. That is why I find it baffling that the assumption that everyone should aspire to have children is still so prevalent. How can that be when the figures are what they are.

  2. Regardless of whether one is a climate change believer or skeptic, the impact of population growth on the environment is there for all to see. For example the deforestation of the Amazon forest, which has been extensively reported in some sections of the media in recent years. I can understand your feelings about not wanting to add to that burden by having children.

  3. It is fair to say that more people today are aware of the impact of their every day life on the environment as a whole in a way that they weren’t before, me included. For example recycling is part of my daily routine now and it is something that I feel very passionate about. I suppose one of the big challenges will be to produce cars that are less polluting and also cheaper for the average person to buy.

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