Climate Change Fears Driving 40% of People to Avoid Having Children, Survey Finds

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A new survey finds growing concerns over climate change are impacting a number of key considerations, including the decision to avoid having children.

New research across 31 countries including the U.S., U.K., South Korea, Egypt, Turkey, Hong Kong, India, and Thailand, finds looming threats from the warming climate are impacting major life decisions, including whether or not to start families. The research was conducted by GlobeScan.

The findings

According to the findings, 65 percent of people say climate change is a “very serious” issue—this is the highest level on record since tracking began in 2002. The number is also up significantly since 2014, which saw 45 percent say the climate change threat was very serious.

The concerns over the changing climate are now personal, with 37 percent saying it’s greatly affecting them as individuals—a number up from 31 percent in 2020.

Forty percent of those surveyed said climate change is a major reason for avoiding having children. For people under age 30, that number jumps to 44 percent. Specifically, those who say they’re avoiding starting families, also said they were personally affected by climate change. The top three climate concerns include extreme heat, food price increases, and drought.

Some Muslim countries such as Indonesia were outliers, with only 18 percent saying they would avoid having children because of the climate. But in Egypt, Turkey, and India, the numbers were higher despite the Muslim populations. In Egypt, it’s 61 percent, Turkey, 54 percent, and 52 percent in India.

The findings also show consensus over the impact on the world’s poorest populations; 85 percent of those surveyed said they think poor people will be most impacted by climate change. In the U.S., that number was the lowest, however, with 74 percent agreeing.

A less positive future

“These personal impacts of climate change, as they grow, are clearly contributing to the sense of people that the future will be less positive than it is now and they are fearful to have children in a world that is affected by extreme weather and its consequences, like food insecurity,” GlobeScan’s chief executive, Chris Coulter, said in a statement.

climate change survey
Courtesy GlobeScan

A study published by Fidelity Investments earlier this year found that 45 percent of Millennials and Gen Z say they’re not planning for retirement as issues like climate change threaten their future.

“To this group, retirement seems like it’s a very long way away, and they have more immediate concerns,” Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement at Fidelity Investments, said in a statement.

“It’s important to look at the big picture, and realize one of the most important things you can do [for financial health] is start saving for retirement.”

Lead photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.


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