Is money the reason you’re childless?

Is money keeping you from having children? Check out this article.

In a Fox Business article, “Are Childless Millennials Harming the U.S. Economy?” writer Brittany De Lea looks at the trend for young Americans to either delay childbearing or decide not to do it at all. Birthrates have declined overall, and only 20 percent of young Americans questioned in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey said that having children was very important to them.

Why? Money is a big issue. Everything costs so much these days, and college graduates are burdened by student loan debt. They don’t know if they can ever afford a house. How can they afford to have children? The article estimates it costs about $234,000 to raise a child from birth through age 18. That’s assuming the child is healthy and has no special needs.

Most couples need two incomes to pay the bills. The 1950s lifestyle where moms stayed home and the family could live on the father’s income sounds like a fairy tale now. Right?

In addition, people seem to be getting married later, which means they have less time to have children (if they feel the need to be married before they procreate). And then they look at the news and think: Should I bring a child into this messed-up world?

De Lea doesn’t mention second marriages where the partners are older and one may already be supporting children from a previous relationship, but obviously money is a factor there, too. A lot of us can testify to that.

If fewer children are born, De Lea cautions, we will have fewer workers, fewer people to keep the economy going, and fewer people to support programs like Social Security.

It’s a lot to think about. I have noticed that in most relationships, one partner is a lot more concerned about money than the other. I always figured we’d work things out, but my late husband worried about the money. And my dad, omg, he held the dollars so tight they squeaked. In your own relationships, is money one of the reasons you disagree about having children?

Please read the article. What do you think about all this? I’m well into menopause, but many of you are right in the age group the article is talking about. I would love to read your comments.


Who can afford to have children these days?

Back about 23 years ago, I wrote articles for Bay Area Parent and Bay Area Baby. One of my assignments was a piece on the cost of childbirth and “Baby’s first year.” Knowing nothing, I called hospitals for quotes and drove around to the various baby supply stores taking notes on what they sold and how much it cost. As if I knew what I was doing, as if I knew what one really needed to take care of a baby. I’m the one who always showed up at baby showers with a stuffed animal or a ludicrously wrong-sized garment. I should have sat down with some actual parents who were willing to go through their receipts for the past year or at least make a list of the essentials. I mean, what did I know? Did I include breast pumps, vaccinations, itty bitty shoes? Do six-month-olds even wear shoes? I know more about what a dog needs than what an infant requires, but I did my best. I came up with $33,700 (in 1990 dollars). That’s a lot of lattes.
Jonathan V. Last, author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, has children. He knows what they cost. He estimates raising a child from birth through college costs way more than anyone thinks, more than the USDA estimate of $207,800. Add $66,452 to $145,060 for college, which takes it to over a million dollars. Fast says the median price of a home in the U.S. in 2008 was $180,000, so “having a baby is like buying six houses, all at once. Except you can’t sell your children, they never appreciate in value, and there’s a good chance that, somewhere around age 16, they’ll announce: ‘I hate you.'” In addition to the out-of-pocket expenses, couples need to factor in lost wages for whichever parent does most of the childcare, usually the mother. These numbers don’t include the ridiculous cost of fertility treatments for those who need them or caring for a child with special needs.
Now, I’m sure parents can cut back somewhere. Do kids need the most expensive version of everything? Do their parents have to send them to the most expensive colleges and pay for food and lodging? Do all kids have to go to summer camp? But if we had children, we’d want to do the best for them, right?
The high cost may explain why the birth rate has gone down in recent years. I can barely afford to take care of my dog, whose main problem is persistent ear infections. So, let’s talk about the cost of having babies. The young people I know worry a lot about having enough money. Some of them have delayed childbirth indefinitely for that very reason. Has this been a factor in your discussions with your partner about whether or not to have children? Should it be? How would you handle the costs if you got pregnant?