A new report that the U.S. birthrate has plummeted to its lowest in 32 years underscores what experts are saying about millennials: 20-somethings are delaying children because having kids is too expensive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says almost all racial and age groups are pushing back against becoming parents, with more 30-year-olds than 20-year-olds having kids for the first time ever. Women in their 20s have historically given birth to the most babies in the U.S.
The gap between Gen Xers and millennials grew in 2018 – the fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the CDC report. The data showed only slight fertility gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s. The decline in the U.S. birthrate to 3,788,235 births represents a 2 percent drop from 2017.
Many took to social media in reaction to the CDC report and listed the financial obstacles they said stand in the way of becoming parents. Prospective parents joined current parents in spelling out frustration with finding childcare and the death of other support systems. They also blamed high insurance costs and the lack of parent leave.
Paychecks aren’t keeping up with economic growth
Demographers expressed surprise at the CDC report and said they had expected the birthrate to stabilize or even climb since the U.S. economy and job market have been growing for years. Young Americans were having none of it. The national economy may be growing, but workers’ paychecks are keeping pace, they noted on social media.
Millennials surveyed by The New York Times cited money as one of the major reasons they aren’t having children or expect to have fewer kids than they consider ideal. While 43 percent said they waited to have kids because of financial instability, another 64 percent said childcare is too expensive.
Some 44 percent said they can’t afford to have more children, and 49 percent said they are worried about the economy. Not enough paid family leave was a problem for 39 percent, while 38 percent said they have no paid family leave. The survey of 1,858 men and women ages 20 to 45 allowed multiple answers.
Expect a Child to Cost 200K Plus
A look at the numbers reveals why the expense of childrearing is worrisome. Raising a child to age 18 in American will cost parents an average of $230,000, according to a Merrill Lynch report. Some 90 percent of the 2,500 American parents who responded said they were surprised by how much money they spent after their children arrived. The percentage who said they considered finances in becoming a parent has increased by 40 percent since 1970. Respondents said they saw family spending and investing patterns could be affected by having children, according to the report.
Millennials are not just delaying having children because they are worried about money. They’re also putting off marriage in order to get their finances on steady ground, according to Business Insider.
The CDC report on birthrates among teenagers was greeted as good news by many. The decline in teen mothers giving birth was down 7 percent in 2018 to 17.4 births for every 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. The teen birthrate has fallen 72 percent since 1991 and 58 percent since 2007.