Maternal instinct 'is extinct for one woman in five'

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The Independent Online

The maternal instinct no longer exists in one-fifth of Britain's women, according to new market research that reveals they are as unlikely as men to want to start a family.

The maternal instinct no longer exists in one-fifth of Britain's women, according to new market research that reveals they are as unlikely as men to want to start a family.

In a survey of nearly 700 adults who had not had children, more women than men thought it important to be financially secure and established in their careers before starting a family.

The number of women choosing not to have children has risen from 15 to 18 per cent in the past two years, reflecting profound social changes and the increasing numbers of women reluctant to step off the career ladder, sociologists said yesterday.

The research found a large gap in attitude between men and women when viewing their work. One-quarter of women, compared with less than one-fifth of men, saw their work as a career rather than a job. This is a complete switch from four years ago when men were more career-minded than women.

The findings are contained in the Pre-Family Lifestyles Report, which was put together by Mintel, the market analyst. Angela Hughes, consumer research manager at Mintel, said: "Young women will be more reluctant than ever to interrupt their career in order to have children, or more couples will be opting to leave child care to the less career-minded male partner."

The survey found that married men and women were more likely to say they did not want children than co-habiting couples. Those living alone were keenest on starting a family, with only 15 per cent saying they would prefer not to. Overall, one woman in ten said she was undecided about children.

The research showed that one-quarter of people aged 20 to 34 did not want to take on the responsibility of parenthood. Only 3 per cent thought having children while young still outweighed the financial and career advantages.

Nearly half of those interviewed were in a steady relationship. Despite the reluctance of pre-family adults to settle down, nearly one in five pre-family women, in their early twenties, had been in the same relationship for at least five years, the survey found.

In contrast, three in ten of the men said their emotional lives consisted of a succession of short-term relationships or encounters, according to the Mintel research.

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