The number of childless women in the Czech Republic continues to increase. While in the 1970s and 80s, only five to seven percent of women living in then communist Czechoslovakia didn’t have children, the Czech Statistics Office projects that every sixth woman who is now in her thirties will remain childless.
According to an analysis carried out by Czech Radio’s data journalism team, using data released by the Czech Statistics Office, around 18 percent of women who are now in their 30s and 40s are expected to stay childless, which is almost three times as many as in previous generations.
Although the increase seems to be quite considerable, sociologist Hana Hašková from the Czech Academy of Sciences points out that childlessness reached similar lows in Czechoslovakia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
She also says that in many other European countries, the number of women without children is already much higher.
“It sounds like a really high figure, when you compare it with the fertility rate of previous generations. But for example in Germany and also in many southern European countries, the number of childless women has already reached 20 percent. So from this perspective, the figure is actually not that surprising.”
The difference between Western and Eastern Europe was most apparent in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, only around six percent of women born in Czechoslovakia in 1960 remained childless, compared to 21 percent in Switzerland and 19 percent in Great Britain.
Although the difference drawn by the Iron Curtain is still apparent today, it is becoming less distinct. The highest number of childless women is currently in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, around 20 percent, followed by south European states, such as Spain and Greece.
In the former Eastern Blok, childlessness currently stands at around ten percent but it is steeply increasing and so is the number of women with only one child.
“People can retrospectively reconstruct the moments in their life that led them to remaining childless. But there is rarely a deliberate decision to reject parenthood as such.”
One of the major factors behind the growing childlessness among Czech women is postponing children to a later age due to demanding careers or economic uncertainty, followed by problems finding a suitable partner or conceiving.
The trend of postponing children to a later age increases with education. According to Czech Radio’s analysis, 40 percent of university educated women are still childless at the age of 30, compared to nine percent of manually working women.
The data also projects that one in three Czech women with a university education who are now in their thirties or forties will never have a child.
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