Gen Y: If Childfree, More Likely to Stay That Way?

The April 23rd edition of USA Today had the article, “Generation Y faces some steep financial hurdles.”  Also known as the Millennial Generation, they include the more than 50 million born from the 1980s to 2000. According to the article, they may be best remembered for “whether they can overcome the dire financial straits that plague many of them,” with their plight “as much created by members’ pre-recession personal finance habits as by the misfortune of coming of age as the recession took hold in 2007.”

A recent report by Demos, a public policy research and advocacy think tank indicates that…..stagnant wages, job insecurity, lack of health care insurance, increase in basic expenses, their soaring debt, and minimal savings have “jeopardized the economic security of an entire generation.”

According to the Pew Research Center, about 37% have been underemployed or out of work during the recession, “the highest share among the age group in more than three decades.” Only 58% pay monthly their bills on time, says the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Yet 25% say they are spending more than last year according to the NFCC survey.

While all of this is happening, in my communications with the childfree 20 somethings part of this generational group I have noticed that many seem very sure about their decision not to have children. Often when I have talked with 20 somethings in the past, they make have this feeling, but are leaving the door open for awhile to see how their feelings might change over time.  Those that I talk with today about having kids often seem more sure, and even seek out sterilization because they are sure they want to close the door now.

I wonder: with society’s increased acceptance of the childfree choice with every generation (while this might be just a bit with each generation, I do think it’s  true overall), does it help younger adults make this decision for sure sooner in life? How does the economic climate they are in and face in the future influence their feelings about having children? In other words, will we see an increase in birthrates of one or none per woman with this generation? We should find out with some data coming out from the census in June…stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, what do you think?

4 thoughts on “Gen Y: If Childfree, More Likely to Stay That Way?

  1. I’m a generation y-er and I actually have quite a few friends who say they won’t have children. I also have friends who say they’re going to wait to become parents (i.e. after age 30). But I’m curious to see how many friends will actually stay childfree once their supposed “biological clock” starts ticking. I know that in past generations, people have said they didn’t want kids ever, but once they hit 30ish, they changed their mind. My coworkers who are 10+ years older than me said they thought they didn’t want kids in their 20’s but “changed their minds” later on. It makes me wonder if they were ever really childfree in the first place…

    So I wonder if my friends are truly childfree, or if it’s some sort of developmental thing, and that they are confusing “not being ready for kids” with “not wanting kids.”

    I guess time will tell.

    1. Christine, re wondering if they are confusing “not being ready for kids” with “not wanting kids” — good question! Check out this month’s on-the-ground question–I am asking just that question and want to do a longitudinal study. Want to be in a study? Know any others who might want to? Let me know! ~L

  2. When a trend becomes somewhat socially accepted but is still somewhat controversial, then teens will love to claim to be part of the trend for rebelliousness or shock value. So… we’ll have to wait and see.

    It’s easy to say you don’t want kids at 16 or 19, as (most of) society doesn’t think it’s a good idea to be having them then, anyway, so you don’t want to look “dumb” doing it, you don’t have people pressuring you, and most of your friends don’t have them so you still “fit in” with the group. But at 28 or 32 when you’re being pressured by everyone and your friends are shutting you out for not being trapped like they are — that’s when you see who really doesn’t want kids and who might just go along to get along.

    Time will tell with the Y crowd and it will be interesting to see how it goes.

    1. Thanks, Phoena, indeed it will be interesting to watch. I decided to do a longitudinal study (see otg the ground question of the month). If you know of childfree 20 somethings who might be interested in participating, send them my way! ~L

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