Women Without Children Aren't Selfish — They're Smart

A recent study has highlighted the strong correlation between intelligence and childlessness. Satoshi Kanazawa, a researcher at the London School of Economics who conducted the study, concluded that a woman's maternal urges decrease by 25% with every extra 15 IQ points. In other words, the more intelligence a woman possesses, the less likely she is to opt to conceive. Kanazawa believes that choosing to live a child-free life is a horrible and “unnatural” decision, but he is wrong. Living a childless life is not unnatural and instead can be very beneficial to our well-being and the well-being of our planet.

In the opening of the 12th chapter of his book, The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One, Kanazawa says, “If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence.” Apparently Kanazawa sees a woman's biological existence as reserved for conception above all else. That must be news to the millions of women around the world who can't, or don't want to, conceive.

Putting his offensive beliefs about a woman's biological existence aside, notice Kanazawa completely disregards the fact that as population rises, the hopes for a sustainable life on Earth decrease because “our population rises at the same time as the number of people Earth can sustain shrinks.” Population growth contributes to over-consumption of the Earth's resources and we already know that humans use resources faster than the Earth can replenish them. Kanazawa makes no reference to the fact that rising population has already contributed to climate change and global warming. Nor does he acknowledge the links between human population growth and animal extinction, or that fact that some scientists believe that we have entered a period of historic extinction and are quickly approaching the sixth great “extinction wave.”

Population growth not only damages the Earth and depletes its resources but “diminishes human well-being” too. So why is Kanazawa crying about woman choosing not to have children when he should be crying about the negative consequences population growth has on our planet? If we already established that excessive population growth is detrimental to our well-being and negatively affects Earth, then voluntary childlessness should not be deemed “unnatural." If anything, it should be encouraged. This isn't to suggest that everyone shouldn't have kids or that anyone who chooses to have kids is to blame for environmental degradation. However, the idea that a conscious decision not to have kids is “unnatural” is absurd.

For the longest time we believed that having children makes us happy but studies reveal that there is “almost zero association” between having children and being happy. Scientists have yet to prove that children contribute to our overall happiness. And yet women are accused of being selfish when they decide not to have kids. Instead of highlighting the so-called selfishness of a child-free life like Jonathan V. Last does in his book What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster, we should highlight the beneficial aspects of this decision and acknowledge that childlessness can be a responsible decision too. Imagine a planet where every single woman decided to conceive. An already unsustainable planet would be completely unlivable.

Women should never have to justify their decision to not have kids. It's their body, their life, and their choice — period.