Childlessness of men in Canada: Result of a waiting game in a changing family context


  • Zenaida R. Ravanera
  • Roderic Beaujot



men’s fertility, childlessness, fertility intention, fatherhood


Childlessness was about 12–13 per cent for cohorts born in 1927 to 1941, but increased in younger cohorts, with the childlessness of men born in 1957–1961 reaching 20 per cent. Using data from the 2006 Canadian General Social Survey on families, we show that the intention to be childfree among young men has largely remained low, at 8 to 10 per cent. As men grow older, the intention to be childfree increases such that at age 45–49, 16 per cent intend not to become fathers. Rather than a deliberate choice, the increase in childlessness could be the result of a waiting game. Longer stays in school, later entry into the work force, and starting marital relations at older ages contribute to delays in becoming fathers. While for many men the delay does not necessarily end in childlessness, for others the period of waiting changes their intention to become fathers. The adjustment of intentions and the eventual childlessness are made easier because of the reduced normative pressure to have children.