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Becoming a parent or remaining childfree? New research at Birkbeck investigates how people decide

The survey launched at London Science Museum’s ‘Love Lates’ event.

Three women sit at a table with colourful counters on top of it. The women smile at the camera.
From left to right, students Ify Ikegulu and Harriet Boyle with Professor Fiona Tasker at the Science Museum launching their study.

Birkbeck, University of London researchers launched an online survey exploring the path to parenthood at London’s prestigious Science Museum Lates event on 7th March. The Maybe Baby Maybe Not research project will investigate the psychological reasons why people decide to have children or remain childfree.  

Professor Fiona Tasker, in Birkbeck’s School of Psychological Sciences, who is leading the research commented: “Our exciting new study aims to find out what young adults are thinking as they plan whether to have children in the future and whether these reasons are similar or different to those that childfree people or parents give us. I am thrilled to have had the chance to talk about this study with the public at the Science Museum, and invite the first cohort of participants. 

Professor Tasker’s talk at the Science Museum discussed how and why adults choose parenthood or to remain child-free, and invited the audience to place themselves on the decision board to examine factors that might influence their choice.   

People in the UK and Europe are having fewer children than previously, and the age of first-time parenthood has been rising over recent decades, and many policy decisions concerning national and local government provision for children are inferred from birth rate trends. The new survey aims to examine the psychological motivations behind those birth rate trends.  

The survey will explore multiple themes and areas of investigation, including: what the reasons are as to why people decide to have or not to have children; whether decisions are linked to diversity in age, gender, sexual identity, culture and ethnicity, or health and disability; and whether thoughts about housing trends, careers, or economic factors make people more or less optimistic about having children. The survey will also ask if people make different decisions because of psychological reasons, and will explore the appeal of becoming a parent or remaining childfree.  

More information about this research, including how to volunteer to take part can be found online.   

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