The US Isn’t Having Enough Babies, and Childcare Costs Could Be a Major Factor

Supermajority Education Fund

December 4, 2019

Birth numbers in the U.S. are dropping. Per the Centers for Disease Control, 3,791,712 babies were born in 2018, which was a 2 percent drop from the previous year. In 2017, 3,853,472, were born, which was another 2 percent drop from 2016. At this rate, women are not having enough babies to maintain the current population, NBC reports.

These numbers are not shocking considering recent reports that millennials are choosing not to have children for many reasons. A survey from The New York Times in July 2018 found that 64 percent of its participants, who were between the ages 20 and 45, are choosing not to start families because of the high cost of childcare. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed were worried about the economy, and 39 percent said they didn’t have enough paid family leave. Climate change was also a concern listed on the survey. 

Paid leave and affordable childcare remain chief concerns among young Americans, according to the Center for American Progress. As the Center noted in 2016, there is no national law that requires citizens to receive paid leave, and only two countries in the developed world do not offer this option: the U.S. and Papua New Guinea. 

Rasheed Malik, Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress, told Supermajority News that millennials in particular are feeling too much financial pressure to think about adding in childcare to their budget. 

“Unfortunately, most millennials are under a mountain of financial pressures, whether that’s student debt, stagnant wage growth, unaffordable housing, and credit card debt,” he said. “As they think about starting or expanding their families, one of the biggest considerations is whether they can afford quality child care, which can be like adding a second mortgage in many places. We don’t live in a single breadwinner, stay-at-home parent society anymore, so child care is a part of any family’s work-life balance ledger.”

Washington University sociology professor Caitlyn Collins told ABC News in January that American moms, in particular, feel pressured to maintain a work-family balance, but do not have the structures in place to support that effort. 

“There are real demographic consequences for not supporting families,” Collins said at the time. “We are horrifyingly far behind. The U.S. is one of the most family-hostile countries across the world, which is really sad. We talk a lot about families sort of being the backbone of our society, but we don’t support that with any material policies that would actually enable people to reconcile their work and family lives.”