Childfree/Childless Individuals, Population Ageing and Sexual Identities

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:54 AM
Room: Booth 54
Oral Presentation
Gerardo ZAMORA , Universidad Pública de Navarra, Spain
Mikel OTXOTORENA-FERNANDEZ , Asociación ON:GIZ Elkartea, Spain
Rosanna DE LA ROSA , Escuela de Estudios Sanitarios, Universidad Publica de Navarra, Spain
In many societies, either as a single person or as a couple, individuals who choose not to have children are increasing in number and as a share of the population. Also, many individuals and couples do not have children not because it is their choice, but because of other social and individual factors. Both situations confront normative sexualities, and question the normative links between sexuality and reproduction. In parallel, a large group of individuals have been denied social (and thus legal) recognition concerning the access to parenthood; therefore, a great part of these individuals have remained childless/childfree, whether voluntarily or not. This is the case, for instance, of many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual or queer (LGBTIQ) individuals aged 60 and older, or even younger. Both LGBTIQ parents and non-parents confront and question, too, normative sexualities and the links with normative reproduction.

How are these social processes affecting demographic changes, such as population ageing? Have they been affecting such changes? Does the study of childless/childfree individuals in their fifties and sixties shed some light on how to address the challenges facing societies in the future decades, when family structures will have changed so much and childlessness will become more visible? Will the increasing choice of a childless/childfree life blur the boundaries between certain features of the so called sexual identities? Can there be an identity based on childless/childfree choices? Will this affect sociological research perspectives on demographic changes? Is this relevant for policies addressing population ageing?

This papers analyses waves 1, 2 and 3 from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). It compares parents and childless/childfree individuals in terms of health, social expectations, and other variables. The paper analyses, too, results from 10 in-depth interviews with LGB individuals aged 50 and older, most of them non-parents.