Babies are a status symbol in today’s economy: it is the “haves and have-nots” who can afford children
The stork isn’t as busy as it was over a decade ago, as more and more Americans can’t afford its services.
The US birth rate has been falling since 2008, plunging even further when the pandemic hit. CDC data revealed that from 2019 to 2020, the US birth rate fell 4% from 2019 to 2020, the largest single-year drop in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births. since 1979. While the baby bust was not as large as expected and more Americans are starting to have babies again, America still has 60,000 fewer babies due to the pandemic.
The reasons are many: women have better access to contraception than before. They also now have the option of prioritizing education and career. Some don’t want to bring a child into a world facing a climate crisis. Others are simply not interested in having children because they like their life the way it is. But there is also a glaring obviousness: children really cost a lot in an economy that is only getting more and more expensive.
As Guzzo explains, people might put off having a child because they want to achieve financial stability first. But in reality, now may never be the right time, as society makes it hard for people to feel able to afford things like housing, health care, student loan repayments, and school. grocery store.
“And then a child on top of that,” she added.
Finances have been one of the main reasons Americans don’t have children or have fewer than they considered ideal, even before the pandemic. Millennials, the generation that covers most women of childbearing age, faced two recessions before they turned 40 while juggling student debt and soaring living costs. Now they face inflation for the first time after it hit a 41-year high. While high prices are hitting everyone, they’re hurting millennials the most, as they’re at a stage in their lives that involves buying big-ticket items like cars and homes.
“I remember 17 years ago realizing my monthly mortgage payment was going to be less than my monthly daycare payments,” said Guzzo, a mother herself. “And it didn’t get better.”
These affordability issues have caused college-educated people to typically postpone having children until their 30s, when they feel more financially stable, Guzzo said. But it’s those without a college degree who don’t have a foothold in the job market who may never become parents or have as many children as they want, she added.
Guzzo said that in some ways having children is kind of about optimism: Committing to a minimum of 18 “really more like 25” signals a sense of security about the future, a feeling that you can afford to give their children a good life.