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According to recent studies, the number of children born to women aged between 40 and 44 has nearly doubled over the past two decades. Couples in their late thirties and early forties are the primary age group still interested in settling down and having families.
In fact, the number of younger, childless couples has doubled since 1970. So why aren’t millennials having babies? Hard to say for sure, but here are a few likely reasons.
- The planet is already overpopulated
Millennials like to think of themselves as a more environmentally-conscious generation than their parents’, and many feel that there are far too many people on the planet already.
If fact, studies have shown that the greatest impact individuals can have in fighting climate change is to have one fewer child.
- Millenials are drowning in debt
For most people (women, especially), having a child means putting your career and studies on hold.
According to statistics, Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 have an average of $42,000 in debt, much of which is on their credit cards. The main culprits? Student loans, the increasingly high cost of living and stagnating income growth rates.
It’s natural to only want to bring a child into the world once you feel that your finances are in order. Many Millennials juggle multiple jobs or work for themselves, which can make it difficult to make savings and find time to care for a child.
- The world is not a safe place for a child
Many Millennials grew up believing that the world is in a terrible state. The threat of terrorism, high unemployment, inflation, global warming… these are but a few examples.
As a result, some Millennials are postponing parenthood because of their belief that the current global environment isn’t safe for child-rearing.
- Retirement fright
The workplace has changed. In the so-called gig economy, Millennials are often freelancers or micro-entrepreneurs — the safety of a pension and benefits simply do not exist. Previous generations, for the most part, were company men and women who retired with a comfortable nest egg.
Those choosing to work for themselves must keep in mind that in order to be comfortable they have to start that retirement savings account sooner than later. Children are expensive, costing their parents an average of $245,000 a year until the age of 17. That’s a hefty sum of money that could be going towards retirement.
- Millennials enter long-term relationships more cautiously
Many Millennials prefer pursuing casual relationships until they find the ‘right’ partner to settle down with. Statistics also show that they take more time to get to know each other before tying the knot.
The large portion of relationships today begin online. Unlike their parents and grandparents who were likely high school sweethearts or grew up in the same neighbourhood – Millennials have far more to learn about each other before deciding to live the rest of their lives together.
Since so few are ready to commit, the number of babies born to Millennials is relatively low, despite the known fact that fertility declines with age while the risk of abnormalities increases.
Times have changed and what worked in the past may not be applicable today — but that doesn’t mean Millennials don’t want to settle down eventually. While statistics may show that Millennials are uninterested in being partners and parents, in reality they may just be taking their time.