Ethical, environmental and political concerns about climate change may be affecting the decision to have children or how many, according to a new study published by Plos Climate.
Researchers from University College London reviewed previous studies and found that greater concern about climate change was typically associated with less positive attitudes toward reproduction and the desire or intention to have fewer or no children.
The team examined 13 studies, with 10,788 participants, conducted primarily in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and several European countries. This association was identified in twelve.
The key factors were four: uncertainty about the future of an unborn childor, environmentalist views focused on overpopulation and excessive consumption, meeting family subsistence needs, and political sentiments.
The term ecological anxiety has rapidly entered public discourse, “describing a series of negative emotional responses including fear, worry, guilt and anger in response to climate change,” University College London says in a statement.
The study's lead author, Hope Dillarstone, noted that recently, the media "has paid attention to the growing number of people who take their concerns about climate change into account when planning" their reproductive decisions.
However, the team was concerned that “public discourse may have oversimplified this relationship” and wanted to understand whether there was an evidence base to support these claims and, if so, whether there were other motivating factors besides ethical concerns. .
The study showed that there is a “complex and intricate relationship between climate change and reproductive choices, with differences observed both within each country and between countries around the world,” the note adds.
One of the main reasons was individual concern for their children in a world affected by the climate crisis.
The review also highlighted three other factors, with one of the main concerns being the ecological impact of reproduction, as people feared that having children would contribute to overpopulation and overconsumption in a world with already scarce resources.
To a lesser extent, two studies in Zambia and Ethiopia also found that participants wanted fewer children to meet subsistence needs during periods of declining agricultural productivity.
Additionally, in another study, some participants based their decision not to have children on political considerations, with two reporting that they were refusing as a method of "striking" until systemic change occurred.
"Our analysis shows that many people are not only concerned about the well-being of their children, who are growing up in a world of uncertainty, but are also considering the impact of having children on the environment, their family's ability to survive, and their politics,” Dillarstone noted.