Poll: Young adults list expense of child care as top reason for having fewer kids

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Young adults list the high expense of child care as a top reason for having fewer kids, according a New York Times poll released Thursday.

Fertility rates in the U.S. are at a record low for the second year in a row, according to data released earlier this year, with the Times’s new poll shedding light on some of the major reasons behind the drop.

While 64 percent of the poll’s respondents said they are having fewer children because child care is too expensive, roughly half, 49 percent, said they are worried about the economy, 43 percent said they waited because of financial instability and 39 percent cited no paid family leave.


The U.S. does not have national standards on paid family leave. 

The decline in U.S. fertility rates began with the Great Recession in 2008 and has continued steadily for the past decade, baffling those who assumed the rate would pick back up when the economy recovered, the Times noted.  

The number of births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age was 60.2 last year, a rate that is similar to other industrialized nations but the lowest the U.S. has ever seen.

Among respondents who said they did not plan to have children, around a quarter, 23 percent, cited the economy as a deterrent, while 24 percent said they couldn’t afford a house. Other major factors surveyed were personal in nature, such as the desire for more leisure time or not having found a partner.

“A lot of people, especially communities of color, can’t really afford that now,” 22-year-old college graduate Brittany Butler told the Times. “I’m just apprehensive about going back to poverty. I know how it goes, I know the effects of it, and I’m thinking, ‘Can I ever break this curse?’ I would just like to change the narrative around.”

Several women surveyed for the poll also cited the “mommy tax” — the fact that women who have children often face extreme pay cuts when they return to work.

The survey was conducted by Morning Consult for the Times and surveyed 1,858 men and women between the ages of 20 and 45.

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