Birth Rate Falls Again: Too Few Babies for the Economy?
By BLAIRE BRIODY, The Fiscal Times
The birth rate has declined for a third year in a row, according to figures released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another sign that the recession has pushed the birth rate down to alarming levels. A falling birth rate, combined with women waiting longer to have children and the ever-increasing cost of raising a child has many experts wondering if the U.S. is headed for the same aging crisis that has hit Japan and many European countries – where a tiny workforce is supporting a large aging population and straining social programs to their breaking points.
Babies – Expensive, Intrusive and Too Few for the Economy
For many couples, the recession has curtailed their dreams of having more children. When she was younger, Andrea Hoffmann’s dream family consisted of three children, each two years apart, two girls and a boy. She’d work from home in their three bedroom home in a quaint New Jersey suburb, her husband commuting to New York City. She’d have it all — the house, the husband, the fulfilling career, and a bustling household of children playing tag in the manicured front yard. But last year, Hoffmann’s dream evaporated. After much deliberation, the Hoffmanns decided they couldn’t afford a third child. They could barely afford the two they already had.
Whether it’s hospital costs, diapers, day care, or the ever increasing cost of a college education, children are expensive, and getting more so. Due to the recession, couples are starting to consider the financial realities having a family — for many, that means downsizing or skipping out on baby-making altogether.
Three Strikes Against Children
The birth rate has dropped over 7 percent since before the recession when the birth rate was holding steady. There were 64.7 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in 2010, down from 69.5 births in 2007. If the downtrend continues, it could create a small workforce supporting a large aging population with less revenue for the expensive tax-funded social programs seniors depend on.
In addition to the rising costs of children, women are marrying later and waiting longer to have children, lowering their chances of conceiving, and facing staggering fertility treatment costs when they get there. With all these forces compounding, it’s possible the birth rate will continue to fall even after the economy recovers — a shift that has undermined the social systems and economies in many developed countries, including Japan and Italy. Right now, the birth rate in the U.S. appears to be teetering on the edge of a cliff, ready to nosedive at any moment.
How Much Is That Baby in the Window?
In 2009, the Department of Agriculture estimated the total before-college cost of raising a child was $286,050 — about $11,700 per year today, and $21,600 a year by the time they’re 18. With college, the cost nearly doubles, not to mention the costs many parents face during a recession, when their college grad shows up at their doorstep expecting to move back in. Housing and child-care were two of the biggest expenses, 31 percent and 17 percent respectively, and 50 percent higher for those who live in urban areas. The U.S. is becoming more urbanized every year — 90 percent of the population is expected to live in cities or suburbs by 2050. For a newborn in New York City, the average family spends up to $16,250 per year on child-care alone.
Pamela Paul, author of Parenting, Inc., writes, “From the moment the self-pregnancy test confirms the happy news, the sales pitches begin: a shower of catalogs hawking the very best in organic onesies; lavender-scented diaper creams and designer rubber duckies; a never-ending cascade of DVDs and baby classes that promise to make your child smarter, socially adept and bilingual before age three … Time-strapped mothers and fathers are the perfect mark for the mammoth ‘parenting’ industry.”
I've been reading more and more that people of all ages are waiting.. and I think the should.. in away .. I mean the cost of living going up and you never know what's going on with health insurance..
How do you feel about this? and does it affect your family and having another child?