I have been reading about the US’s declining birthrate along with the older generation reaching retirement age. The people they quoted acted worried about a smaller working population vs larger retired, disabled and sick/aging population. They named everything from women now choosing to put off having kids leading to a decline in fertility rates to Planned Parenthood and similar resources that help women plan out and prevent pregnancies. Paul Ryan even went as far as saying he did his part and had three kids.
What are the main reasons that keep coming up in discussions where choosing to either put off or avoid having kids is the subject?
The top reasons seem to be lack of good, affordable healthcare- even a lot of people working full time with degrees seem to have trouble affording the costs of paying insurance, deductibles and copays. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a decent insurance, the US has a higher mortality rate for both pregnant women and babies than a lot of other developed countries.
The costs associated with having kids also plays a huge role- it costs over 200k to raise a child and most of the time daycare for one child alone will cost over 20k a year. I know we were looking into daycares locally (low cost of living area) and decided not to because it would literally eat my whole paycheck. Daycares are also getting to be less trustable. They offer assistance, but also now allow random women to put in to run day cares out of their homes. It’s frequently on the news about daycare providers harming kids, having drug paraphernalia and dangerous items (knives etc) out in easy reach and occasionally, they have gone as far as having children die in their care. This happens at the shady lower cost as well as higher, upper scale daycares so can you really trust daycares?
Maternity pay/leave is another higher up on the chart- most places do not pay adequately nor do they seem to give long enough leave to make it worth using. If you get pregnant while working in a lot of different places, if you already have temporary disability insurance, and have been working for over a year you can get paid 6 week leave. If you work less than a year and are not paying into it prior to getting pregnant, you’re out of luck unless the store also has maternity leave benefits mapped out and you’re eligible.
High costs of rent and cost of living in general– Couple that with the next on the list, stagnant and low incomes and you have large numbers of people who can barely pay back their astronomical loans while paying all other bills and you have the recipe for holding off on having kids. The costs of living continue to climb while wages are staying the same overall.
Women now have the option to have kids or not– this is a huge factor I’m sure. Women now have the options of birth control, they can go to college and focus on their career instead of getting married and staying home and not every women who grows up is forced by society to have kids (or be outcast).
But with the positive, negative can come in as well- women have choices now and there have been studies linking later maternal age can lead to infertility and other complications.
There have also been suggestions that fertility rates are dropping some maybe due to environment and others may be due to the later start dates for starting families and having kids but there have been studies that as a whole, rates are dropping.
There are many different opinions, ideas and reasons that people are holding off on having kids and that may not be a bad thing. Our population right now is aging, but after that generation leaves, won’t it start to even out again? Gen X started having less kids than the boomers did and now we’re down to a birthrate of 1.8 as of 2016. It is no longer needed to have a lot of kids to ensure the survival of your family’s genetics and it’s no longer that cheap to raise kids.
What reasons do you think I have missed?