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5 reasons why millennials are choosing to not have kids and birth rates are falling

Many factors contribute to recent trends of declining birth number. The ongoing health and economic crisis could be a major reason.

5 reasons why millennials are choosing to not have kids and birth rates are falling
Image Source: Getty Images/Maskot

Birth and fertility rates have been constantly declining across the country for the past eight years. In today's times, Americans of child-bearing age - the millennials, are delaying parenthood or choosing to not have children at all, per Business Insider. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the US birth rate decreased by 4% between 2019 and 2020, the greatest single-year decline in over 50 years and the lowest number of newborns since 1979. These trends show that millennial women are more likely than ever to delay having children to focus on their careers. 

Image Source: Getty Images/Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy
Image Source: Getty Images/Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy


This might be due to the crippling economy and the rising cost of living since the COVID-19 pandemic. It could also be the result of more strategic family planning and progressive thinking by women who increasingly prioritizing their career and well-being. 

Here are the top five reasons for millennials not choosing to have kids.  

1. Motherhood is not the primary fulfillment of a woman's life. 

In 2023, women have more choices than ever before in terms of how they spend their time, money, and energy. Christine Percheski, Associate Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, said that the falling birth rate is about the rise in women's "individualism", "rise in women's autonomy" and "change in values." It is an outcome of the better access to education and other opportunities that women now enjoy.  

The emergence of dating apps provides a wider choice to working women and they are less prioritizing marriage and motherhood or delaying them. Childbearing has become an option rather than a compulsion for women of any age.

Image Source: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt
Image Source: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

2. Having kids is expensive

School debt, growing prices for things like housing and healthcare and the toll that the global pandemic has taken on the economy are discouraging millennials from embracing parenthood. Some cannot afford having children or want to wait until they feel more secure financially. National childcare costs average between $9,000 and $9,600 annually, which is is out of reach for 63% of full-time working parents in the United States, per Business Insider reports. Hence, finances are one of the main reasons why American millennials do not have children or have fewer children than they would want.

Image Souce: Getty Images/Melinda Podor
Image Souce: Getty Images/Melinda Podor


3. People want to have kids in a stable economy

Recessions have the greatest economic impact on birth and fertility rates. Percheski said, "People tend to wait during periods of political and social unrest." According to Brookings, the Great Recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis resulted in a 9% drop in births, around 400,000 fewer newborns than would have occurred otherwise. A pandemic brings combined economic and health problems, creating even more uncertainty. Taking care of children confined to the house has also proven to be challenging for parents who had to work remotely through the pandemic. 

4. The fear of climate change and the resulting global warming is booming

According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey, 5% of childless individuals who believe they will not have children cite environmental issues as a deciding factor. In addition, according to a Morning Consult study of 4,400 Americans, one in every four childless individuals believes climate change has affected their reproductive decisions. Young adults who believed climate change is influencing their reproductive decisions were concerned about overpopulation and overconsumption. 

Image Source: Getty Images/10'000 Hours
Image Source: Getty Images/10'000 Hours


5. The choice to not have children has become more socially acceptable

A Pew Research Center poll of approximately 3,800 Americans aged 18 to 49 was conducted. It discovered that 44% of non-parents in this generation believe it is unlikely that they would have children eventually. This is a 7-point increase from the 37% of childless individuals who stated the same in 2018. About 56% of this group of childless millennials and non-millennials does not want children. The society is no longer frowning upon this decision like before. 

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