Sunday, September 5, 2010

Baby, It's Expensive Out There

One of the bigger stories this past week was the unsurprising news that women are putting off baby-making, perhaps due to the recession. As CBS news reports, the US birth rate has hit an all-time low, in fact the lowest in a century.

While it is acknowledged that other factors like a drop in immigration and a postponing of pregnancy rather than a decision not to have children at all have impacted the current statistics, it is also true that this drop mirrors a similar downturn that happened during the great depression.

I know it's a cliche to say that if everyone waited until they could afford a child to have one, there would be no children. But children are expensive in so many ways--not just the actual expense of rearing them, but the consequential expenses of taking time off, maybe even years out of the job market, and the myriad of baby-related items and opportunities that are hard for new parents to resist.

My granddaughter apparently didn't get the memo, since she made me a great-grandmother two weeks ago. But oddly enough, the recession did factor into her decision--she's in the midst of college, and felt that taking a quarter off to have a baby wasn't a problem since the job market is so bad that any delay in entering into it seems like a good idea.

I have to say that, as a child of the sixties, who was influenced by Paul Erlich's "The Population Bomb," it doesn't bother me to see the birth rate decline. Maybe it should, since, as a senior citizen, I need those upcoming generations to support me in my dotage.

But I suspect the planet will do just fine with fewer folks on it.


Nicole said...

I saw this news too... but WHY is everybody I know pregnant? Everybody.

Ok, maybe not everybody, but all the moms at DS's daycare are (time to have #2 or #3 now that everyone else is potty trained)... and all my friends who just got married in the last year or two (you know, in their 30s with the biological clock ticking), and all the slightly-senior-to-me economists I know who just got tenure (in their late 30s, see biological clocks)...

Each of these things is explainable, but man, there's a lot of pressure! I'm gonna be a rebel and not get pregnant any time soon, probably.

Still, a baby bust is a good time to have kids... but I'll wait.

tmbf57 said...

LOL! I agree with Nicole, EVERYONE I know is pregnant (not me thank God, I am 53) but my DD just had my first grandson, 2 of the women in my car pool and the wife of the only man in the car pool are expecting, my god-daughter is having her 3rd, and in my department alone we have about 5 ppl expecting (or their wives). So although I have read this same statistic, in my little world everyone is procreating like rabbits!

Grace. said...

So maybe it's all those unemployed folks hanging out together at home and nothing else to do?

Anonymous said...

I too seem to see "everyone" pregnant and thought my gosh do these people not know children = poverty.They maybe the BEST things on earth but they also consume resources! their parents and every taxpayer.Notice you do not see very educated people with lots of children, or very wealthy mass producing children.... And most of the time they can not afford another child or even the ones they have.

velvet jones said...

I'm not seeing everyone pregnant. If anything I'm seeing friends and coworkers saddened because they have to delay starting or expanding their family. But, like the observations of the previous posters, anecdotal evidence doesn't mean fact.

Anyway, personally I'm child-free and not all that bothered by the news. In the grand scheme of things its just a blip. Once things swing towards prosperity again there will be a bajillion babies dropping.

Donna Freedman said...

Just went to a family party. A young relative who has a boy just under a year old blithely stated that she wants to have a girl so she'll definitely have another baby.
"What if the next one's a boy?" she was asked.
Oh, she'll have another one because she really wants a girl.
And if that one's a boy? She'll stop because she thinks three is enough.
But what if the next one IS a girl? She'll still go for three because her husband wants to have "at least one more boy."
In this economy? Yikes -- especially since neither of them has a high-paying job.

Living Almost Large said...

Having kids are the best thing ever. And waiting? Why bother? It's only as expensive or cheap as you chose to make it. Most people I know are having kids because waiting just seem inevitable. And sometimes waiting costs more. Apparently a friend spend $25k on IVF.