Thank you for your interest in this release from my team. I would just like to comment on a couple of specific aspect to help clear up any confusion.
Your blog post states " ... The report is specifically called "Cohort Fertility". To my mind, this isn't looking at fertility. There may very well be those who are childless who have fertility issues - but there will be many who may be perfectly fertile yet choosing not to breed."
I apologise for the confusion here; in a demographic context fertility is used to show the actual number of births a woman has, rather than her ability to conceive (as the term fertility is commonly used), This link gives a reference that explains it fairly simply : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility.
I think this is a case of us using language and not explaining the context / specific meaning to users, so we will take this on board for future releases.
On the distinction between childlessness and child free, ONS uses Childless to refer to women who have not had a live birth; this is in line with accepted demographic terminology. I understand 'child free' to denote a lifestyle choice, and as this release does not examine the difference between voluntary and involuntary childlessness, it is not appropriate to use 'child free'. The data sources available to my team do not allow us to examine the reasons why women have not had a child by any given age. If this data were available it would undoubtedly provide an interesting resource for analysis.
"...But, no. We just get a tabloid-friendly moral panic that women (and only women) are failing in their patriotic duty to lie back and think of England."
ONS is not making any comment on childless women, we are just presenting the available data on the proportion of women who have had births by given ages, and how this has changed over time.
The criticism that the release focuses on women is one we had attempted to take steps to address in the stats bulletin. The analysis presented, especially for the proportion of women remaining childess relies on the use of information on previous children provided at birth registration. This information is collected for the mother only, and so it is not possible to produce comparable statistics for men. The ONS has no agenda with regard to the reporting of this, and the release attributed childlessness to women solely due to data availability being limited to women and our need for a reference point. Our goal was to provide information, but acknowledge that the analysis is limited by our data. It would not be accurate for the release to discuss "couples delaying childbearing" , as we do not have sufficient information on the underlying patterns of partnership or reasoning behind the fertility patterns. The statistical unit available to us for analysis is women / births not couples, as these are not necessarily stable over time , and so this determines what we can examine.
I hope this helps, please send any further queries to Fertility@ons.gsi.gov.uk