Millennials wait longer to have children

by Staff Writer Breanna Littrell

Some people are eager to begin their new family, but this not the case for everyone. Studies show birth rates among the millennial generation have declined 15 percent between 2007 and 2012.

This decline is not due to a lack of wanting children, but instead people are waiting, said Andrea Hunt, assistant professor of Sociology and Family Studies.

“People are not having children at young ages anymore,” Hunt said. “Most people think that teen pregnancy is still a huge problem, but it’s not. There has been a decline in teen pregnancy because of increased access to contraception and more education.”

In 2013, the average age of women having their first child is 26, three years more than in 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Millenials might be having fewer children at an early age because of the negative connotations, said senior Mitchell Lovell.

“There is no time, no money and no resources to have children,” he said. “That’s why people our age are going to college for a better job. So when we do decide to have kids, they will be better off.”

Hunt said people are waiting longer to have children for several reasons, including money.

“It could be that they are focusing on school or their careers, or maybe they want to travel or just get settled into a comfortable lifestyle financially,” she said. “Because of all that time that people wait to have children, they are not able to have as many.”

During times of economic recession, people are questioning whether they can afford to have a child, Hunt said.

“Before, it was more economically feasible to have someone stay at home and spend early years with children, but today, most families are dual-earner families,” she said. “Most families are not able financially to have someone that stays home full time while someone else works full time.

“So you see, this trend is really happening where people are having less children but investing more time and resources into the children that they have because they’re not having to spread those (resources) across.”

Lovell said he would like to have kids one day because it is a “part of life.”

“We are seeing more and more couples deciding that they do not want to have children at all,” Hunt said. “It’s becoming more acceptable to say that you don’t want to have children.”

Some people might like children, but they do not want to raise them, said junior Grace Berlin.

“I like kids, but I’ve never had the desire to have my own,” Berlin said.

Hunt said there used to be a stigma around people who did not want to have children.

“Normal life was to go to school, get married and have children, and all of this happened at really young ages,” she said. “So, by 18 you may already be married and focusing on having children, and so procreation was part of the job of the family.”

Hunt said that stigma is mostly gone in present times, and there is less pressure on people between ages 18-25.

“I think we have a lot more choice in how we think about families today,” she said. “Before, it was kind of an assumption. This is what you are going to do. Today, there is the option as to whether you want to have a family or not.”