Millennials are not having kids… and there are a few reasons why.
For whatever odd reason, it seems like once the clock hits thirty and there is a ring on the finger, something starts ticking in your head that says, “Yo… when are you having kids?”
You might find yourself doing the math if you are a planner like myself, “Ok if I have kids at 32, that means they will go to college when I am 50.”
Or, perhaps you are not the choleric type, you are the kind of person who sees the Facebook and Instagram photos of all the cute baby announcements and can't wait to recreate some of your own.
Whether you are a planner or the most unorganized person in the world, there is one thing that is certain about having kids:
Millennials are not having kids (as much)… but why?
Reasons why Millennials are not having kids.
Millennials are not having kids for a plethora of reasons – whether it's money related daycare and housing costs, student loans, leisure time, travel fear or career advancement.
However, no matter what the reason is, the top two reasons millennials don't have kids boils down to the following:
According to a study done by The New York Times, as the graphic below shows, out of the top ten reasons for not having kids, seven of the ten had to deal with money.
More and more millennials are holding off on kids for many reasons – from focusing on their career to finding the right spouse and traveling more, the average age of parents is increasing.
But the #1 reason millennials are not having kids as young is because of money.
Why money is impacting millennials when it comes to having kids.
There are many reasons millennials don't have the money to have kids.
Poor spending habits, student loan debt, lifestyle spending, social lives and low wages all contribute to the low birth rate amongst Millenials.
There are about 83 million millennials, and as a whole, millennials are not so frugal when it comes to their spending habits [Social Lives – Why Millennials Stay in Debt].
But they also face different challenges when it comes to money:
- When adjusted for inflation millennials make about half ($36,000) as much as their parents did at their age.
- Some 15.1 million Millennials have student loans that add on to the already existing low wages.
- Millennials only save about 3.9% on average
Money isn’t just a millennial problem.
As evidenced by an article on American Savings Habits, Americans as a whole (at just 5%) are not saving as much as they should be – not just millennials.
And while savings are not as much of a priority, to really anyone, neither is budgeting, sound financial planning, and many other components to financial success (Statistically speaking less than half of the US population has $1,000 in savings).
However, millennials do have their work cut out for them when it comes to putting themselves in a position in order to have kids.
Student loans, rising daycare costs, living on their own yet having parents foot the bill, most millennials are just not in the proper position to have kids. Toss in their bad spending habits and things get even more complicated!
Bad millennial spending habits.
A Recent CNBC Money article discussed millennial spending habits. The article stated that 40% of millennials would be willing to go into debt to keep up with their friends.
Some of the “bad spending habits” include:
- Eating out multiple times a week
- Going out several weekends a month
- Living in the big city
- Driving leased cars
- Traveling the world
- Going to every wedding
- Going to every bachelor party
- Buying things on credit
- Financing most purchases
And while the list might go on, I think the fact the most millennials are not even aware of how their spending habits might be creating future problems.
Unknowingly or knowingly the increasing bad spending habits, student loans and not saving or planning for the future gives the perception to most millennials that they simply “Can't Afford” kids.
And while it is easy to point the finger at what the problem is, the plain reality is millennials are waiting longer to have kids. But what about the other reasons?
See More: How to Cut Bad Spending Habits
Three More Reasons Millennials Are Not Having Kids
Money is the dominating factor as to why millennials and adults are having fewer kids – or in some cases even – no kids.
However, money isn't the only reason. Career advancement, leisure time, and fear are contributing factors as well.
Whether millennials are looking for their first job or are too busy climbing the corporate ladder, having kids can sometimes impact career advancement.
The digital age has made life easier in some regards, but also challenging in the sense that careers are more demanding as we remain constantly plugged in.
In order to pursue career advancement, many millennials make sacrifices such as kids!
Between the mantras “YOLO” and “FOMO,” doing me is another cause for the decline in childbirth amongst the millennial generation!
Countless millennials are not only in debt because of their social lives, but they're holding out on starting a family because of their friends too. Desires such as traveling the world and living abroad.
Going out on the weekends, travel, eating out, staying in and living the “Millennial Lifestyle,” are things some gen-y's are simply not willing to part with (yet) in order to make time for a family.
Whether it is global or political instability, fear of financial failure, or even the worry of being a bad parent – FEAR is a factor as to why Millenials are not having kids.
Time and money can obviously fall under the fear category, however in this particular section – fear refers to inadequacies personally or in the world.
While overcoming fears is another article in itself, it's best to think longterm in these scenarios if you're someone whos holding off on kids because of fear – no matter what the cause is.
Some millennials don't want kids.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests many millennials simply don't want kids.
Whether it has to do with their finances, time, lifestyle, or insecurities as a parent – some millennials simply want to avoid kids altogether.
Finding the right partner, early divorcees, and trust are a few reasons that may serve as contributing factors for some millennials and their apprehension to have kids.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing either, as raising kids and starting a family is a large responsibility. While timing is never right, this leads to the final reason millenials are not having kids:
Waiting for the right time to have kids.
There is also one seldom talked about reason Millenials are not having kids (or delaying) and that is waiting for the right time!
This scenario might sound familiar if you're a millennial:
Some millennials go to college, land a career or return to graduate school and start their career around age 24-26. Due to student loans and living a leisurely lifestyle, money isn't saved and they put off having kids. That date gets pushed further and further back in order to prepare or advance in careers.
How do I know this?
Because that is my wife and I. At age 32 (and almost 33) and 31, we have finally felt comfortable having kids and starting a family. But prior to this year, we have had money and time concerns.
Between our personal goals and our student loan debt, we have waited for better timing to have kids! Some might say this is selfish or selfless, but it is a situation that you have to expierence for yourself.
(Which is why I never judge anyone for having, not having, or waiting for kids!)
All that being said, if you're someone who does want kids, here are some suggestions to help you prior to having them!
Suggestions for millennials who want families:
There are some things you can do in order to make sure you're in a position to better have a family – whether you're a millennial or not.
Most centers around lifestyle and money and the list could go on forever. But here are four simple ideas to help you get started!
1. Get financially fit.
Whether you have plans to pay off some credit card debt, student loans or save up for a house, spend the next 12-24 months focusing on your plan.
One of the common issues that hold back millennials from having kids is money. So if you're looking to have kids or grow your already existing family, create some financial goals.
2. Scale back your lifestyle.
Whether you're buying a home or having kids, scaling back your lifestyle is a necessary evil in most cases.
Depending on your situation, this can vary and simply mean you cut back your bar-hopping budget to avoiding every other weekend travel. While this mostly relates to money, there are other factors involved.
Factors like creating more time for your future kids, aligning your values around family and not social circles. Which leads to number three – friends.
3. Select your friends based on values.
You might have heard your parents say things like “You won't even remember half your friends from high school when you're my age,” and truth be told they weren't kidding.
However, that is because in most cases they didn't have time to focus on their marriage, career, friends AND raise a family. So they set priorities and boundaries when it came to friends.
So while this might sound harsh, you might want to snip some people out of your life who don't share similar family values. This doesn't mean you can't be friends.
It just means you need to place precedence on what is important to you (kids).
Lastly, don't have kids until you're done with school.
Managing a child while in school is certainly possible, but if you can control it, do your best to wait until you're done with school, especially if you're a first-time parent.
School is stressful. Having a newborn can also be stressful with all the adjustments. So if you have the ability, be sure to finish school before having kids!
My takeaway on millennials not having kids.
While some might look at this post as maybe a negative there are several positive points and you might be asking yourself, “What does this all mean?”
For starters, on average, the more educated a population is, the fewer kids they have. Whether you look at that as a good or bad thing, the fact of the matter is millennials are the most formally educated generation ever when it comes to college degrees, technology and graduate degrees.
And the future generations will be even more educated with the constant influx of technology.
Additionally, people are better at planning for kids. As a teacher, I can’t hit on this enough. Time and time again educators struggle to grasp why some kids struggle in school.
The most common problem I see in the profession is environmental factors outside of school… It is hard to do homework when the home life is a mess.
So while money might be the #1 reason why most millennials are delaying on kids – it can be looked at from multiple perspectives.
- There is nothing wrong with being financially secure when you have kids.
- There is nothing wrong with having kids early either.
- There is nothing wrong with loving your kids more than anything else.
- There is nothing wrong with whatever choice you personally make!
Question for you: If you already have kids, what adjustments have you had to make with your money?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.