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Top Five Reasons Women Don’t Have Kids


January 31, 2023

OTTAWA, ON – Nearly half of women in Canada have fewer children than they want, according to the new Cardus report, She’s (Not) Having a Baby: Why Half of Canadian Women Are Falling Short of Their Fertility Desires. On average, women have 0.5 children fewer than they’d like. For women in Canada under 30, these are the top five factors decreasing their chances of having a child in the next two years:

  1. Wanting to grow as a person
  2. Wanting to save money
  3. Focusing on career
  4. Believing that kids require intense care
  5. Having no suitable partner in a tie with Wanting more leisure

Here’s why this matters: Women’s happiness in life is tied tightly to fertility.

  • Mothers report greater happiness than non-mothers everywhere, except when under 25 or living in poverty.
  • Having more kids than desired and fewer kids than desired both reduce happiness, but the share of women in Canada with “too many” kids is much smaller than the share with “too few.”
  • Women having fewer kids than they’d like is a much more significant factor in overall women’s happiness than having more kids than they’d like.

This also matters because Canada’s fertility rate is at a historic low of 1.4 children per woman—far lower than the 2.2 children women say they want and even the 1.9 children they intend to try for.

“Low Canadian fertility rates aren’t because women want few kids. It’s simply that the timeline most women follow for school, work, self-development, and marriage leaves too few economically stable years to achieve the families they want,” says report author and Cardus Senior Fellow Lyman Stone.

For more detail and to explore possible policy responses, please, read She’s (Not) Having a Baby: Why Half of Canadian Women Are Falling Short of Their Fertility Desires.


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