New York — At the age of 24, L. Johnson decided she would not have children, although she and her friend did not rule out adoption.
A graduate student working in legal services in Austin, Texas, has a list of reasons not to want to give birth: the climate crisis and a genetic health condition among them.
“I don’t think bringing children into this world is responsible,” Johnson said. “There are already children who need homes. I don’t know what kind of world it will be in 20, 30, 40 years.”
She’s pretty sure, in fact, that she’ll have her tubes removed soon. It’s a prudent decision sealed by the fall of Roe v. Wade and the severe restrictions on abortion services in her state and across the country.
Other women interviewed also cited climate change, along with massive student debt coupled with inflation, as reasons they would never be parents. Some younger men also choose to withdraw and look more for vasectomy.
Whatever the motive, they play a role in the dramatically lower birth rates in the United States
The US birth rate fell 4% in 2020, the largest single-year drop in nearly 50 years, according to a government report. The government noted a 1% increase in births in the US last year, but the number of babies born is still lower than it was before the coronavirus pandemic: about 86,000 fewer than it was in 2019.
Walter and Kia King live in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Walter, 29, a mathematical data scientist, and Keah, 28, a college career counselor, have been together for nearly 10 years, the last four years as a married couple. The realization that they did not want to have children came slowly to both of them.
“It was in my early twenties when the switch type flipped,” Kia said. “We moved to California and were just beginning our adult lives. I think we talked about having three kids at some point. But only with the economy and the state of the world and we just thought about the logistics of bringing the kids into the world. That was really when we started having doubts.”
Finance is our top priority. Before taxes, the two earn about $160,000, with about $120,000 in student loan debt for Kaia and about $5,000 left for Walter. The couple said they wouldn’t be able to buy a home and afford one child without major sacrifices they weren’t willing to make.
But for Kia, the decision is more than just money.
said Kia, who is black.
When the Kyah IUD expires, Walter said he’ll consider vasectomy, a process that has increased among men under 30 during the pandemic.
Jordan Davidson interviewed more than 300 people in a book released in December called So When Do You Have Children? She said the pandemic has prompted many to delay childbirth among those who are considering children at all.
“These timelines that people created for themselves, and I want to achieve X three years from now, have changed. People weren’t necessarily willing to move goals and say, OK, I’m going to compromise on those accomplishments and do it differently,” she said. “People still want to travel. They still want to go to graduate studies. They still want to meet certain financial criteria.”
Davidson said concerns about climate change have reinforced the idea of living without children for many.
“Now with more bushfires, droughts, heat waves, all of a sudden it’s true, OK, this happens during my time, and what would this look like during the time my children were alive?” She said.
In New York City, 23-year-old copywriter for a pharmaceutical advertising agency, Emily Shapiro, earns $60,000 a year, lives at home because she saves money and never wants children.
“It’s sticky. I can never imagine picking up a baby covered in ice cream. I’m like a germ phobia. I don’t want to change a diaper. If I had one, I wouldn’t want them until they were in sixth grade, I also think the physical grounds don’t do well, so it would be It’s not fair.”
Among those interviewed in Jordan, concerns about the environment were more prevalent among the youth cohort. She said affordability questions vexed both millennials and members of Generation Z.
“There is a lot of fear about having children who are going to be worse off than what they looked like when they were kids,” Davidson said.
Dannie Lynn Murphy, who helps find software engineers for Google, said she was about 17 years old when she was taken out of her home by child protective services due to a pattern of child abuse. She said his wife similarly grew up in a “not great” environment.
“We both would at one point say yes to the kids,” she said. “In my late teens, early adult years, I saw and understood cuteness and was drawn to the idea of raising someone differently than I was raised. But the practical realities of a child is a form of lactation.”
Murphy earns about $103,000 a year, with bonuses and shares that can push that amount up to $300,000. His wife earns about $60,000 as a lawyer. They do not own their home in Seattle.
“I can’t see myself committing to a mortgage, let alone a child,” said 28-year-old Murphy. “I think the main reason is my money. I’d rather spend that money on travel than sink half a million dollars into raising a child. Second, there’s now a fear of behaving with our children the way our parents behave with us.”
Alyssa Pearson, 31, grew up in the small town of South Dakota. She said marriage and having children are ingrained in the culture. It wasn’t until after her divorce from her high school sweetheart that she took a step back and asked herself what she really wanted out of life.
“Most women lose their identities where they come from in motherhood,” said Pearson, who now lives in St. Louis and earns about $47,000 a year as a college librarian.
She holds student loan debt of about $80,000. Pearson is a former teacher who loves children, but feels she is now thinking more clearly than ever about the costs, implications, and sacrifices of parenting.
“Having children seems like a trap to me, to be honest,” she said. “Financially, socially, emotionally and physically. And if there is any shadow of doubt, the fact that I cannot support myself comfortably on my salary is enough to scare me away from the idea altogether.”
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