July 6, 2023
As a child, Nisha Mody, now 41, would find herself — like her mom, a trained artist — interested in origami and coloring. She also watched her mom give up her art for a job that allowed her to raise two kids. Mody said her mom felt stifled in the corporate world, but loved home projects such as retiling their floor or painting a mural in their basement. Mody, now a life coach based in Los Angeles, vowed not to make the same sacrifices. In high school, she decided she did not want to have children.
More South Asian women are choosing not to have kids, according to Pratyusha Tummala-Narra, a professor at Boston University who studies South Asian women. Childlessness in the U.S. is on the rise among all women, as birth rates hit an all-time low in 2020. Forty-four percent of Americans ages 18 to 49 did not want children as of 2021, an increase from 37% in 2018.
Nearly every culture views a woman’s role as a mother, and child-free women face prejudice in many societies. But South Asian women who do not want kids often feel like they are no longer part of the community; for them, the choice leaves them feeling isolated in everything from social events to finding partners.