1 Citation (Scopus)


This article investigates the reasons for and experiences of voluntary childlessness throughout the life course. Thirteen voluntarily childless people aged 60 years and older (Belgium) were interviewed using the McAdams approach (2005). Four profiles were derived from the reasons given for voluntary childlessness: the “liberated careerist,” the “social critic,” the “acquiescent partner,” and “voluntarily childless because of life course circumstances.” Results further indicate that older people experience feelings of acceptance, loss (missing familiarity with current trends, being helped, and children’s company), and relief concerning their voluntary childlessness. Moreover, they rarely seem to regret their choice. The discussion indicates the existence of voluntary childlessness among older people, a phenomenon sometimes questioned in the existing scientific literature. As part of a diverse target group, each of these older adults has their personal reasons and experiences regarding childlessness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1536-1558
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number7
Early online date13 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


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