You’ll wish babies came with a pile of cash, but they don’t. More millennials are delaying having kids, and experts suspect it’s partially because of the economy.
What are young Iowans doing when it comes to having children?
Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Josh Hafner
Young Iowans aren’t birthing babies like they used to, at least according to Tamela Hatcher.
The birthing education coordinator at Mercy Medical Center oversees several classes for new and expecting parents and said she is seeing fewer attendees in their 20s and early 30s. She has a hunch: Millennials are putting off childbirth.
“I think they’re delaying it,” Hatcher said. “I think if they have the viability for their childbearing years — if they have time on their hands — they’re waiting on the economy to turn around.”
Numbers show women in Iowa and elsewhere are having fewer children, a nationwide aversion some tie to financial constraints among young people.
Iowa women birthed 5 percent fewer babies in 2012 than in 2007, according to the state’s department of public health. Without that decline, the state would have seen nearly 9,000 additional newborns. National numbers show the birthrate among American women generally began dropping in 2007, reaching a record low last year.
Stewart Friedman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, argues the decline in births means young people aren’t just deciding to have fewer children, but often no children at all. Friedman surveyed college students over the course of two decades to track attitudes of young people about having children.
In 1992, 78 percent of the undergraduates surveyed by Friedman said they planned to have children. By 2012, that number dropped to 42 percent.
Friedman points to increased economic pressure stemming from work and student debt as reasons for the drop.
“Being a parent is still very important for most young people,” Friedman writes in “Baby Bust,” his book on the topic released last month, “but many just don’t see how they can manage it, so they are planning lives without children.”
Those who chose to have children amid the rough economy took on rising costs to raise them.
Federal officials estimate that a child born into a middle-class family in 2007 will cost $204,060 to see through high school. A child born last year is expected to cost $241,080.
For the past 15 years, Hatcher, the birthing education coordinator at Mercy, has overseen a class called Baby Finance 101. It pairs new parents with financial planners to discuss the new monetary burdens a baby can bring. Young people Hatcher encounters are more aware than ever of the the costs of having kids. Some will even jump jobs if they can get better fertility coverage, she said.
“In the past, people just rolled with it financially. They were sure they could make it,” Hatcher said. “Now it seems like they’re coming to classes. They’re trying to find more information prior.”