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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Fewer Americans want to have children

*Climate change and economics among the main reasons

fewer Americans want children

By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
U.S. birth rates fell during the COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of the twin public health and economic crises, validating the predictions made about it from the beginning 

And some estimate that there will be about 300,000 fewer births in the United States during 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. These guesses are already materializing based on tentative monthly estimates, the Pew Research Center warned. 

This continued the downward trend in fertility rates in the country, which were already at an all-time low before the pandemic began.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, a growing proportion of U.S. adults who are not yet parents say they are unlikely to have children, and their reasons range from simply not wanting to to concerns about climate change and the environment.

The paper notes that about 44 percent of non-parents aged 18 to 49 say they are not too or not at all likely to have children someday, up 7 percentage points from the 37 percent who said the same in a 2018 survey. 

Meanwhile, 74 percent of adults under 50 who are already parents say they are unlikely to have more children, virtually unchanged from 2018.

The research center notes that among both parents and non-parents, men and women are equally likely to say they are not likely to have children - or more children - in the future. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, adults in their 40s are much more likely than younger adults to say they are unlikely to have children or to have more children in the future, as about 85 percent of non-parents aged 40 to 49 say this, compared with 37 percent of those under 40. 

Meanwhile, 91 percent of older parents say they are unlikely to have more children, and 60 percent of younger parents say the same.

The majority -- 56 percent -- of non-parents under age 50 who say they are unlikely to ever have children said they simply don't want to have children. Childless adults under 40 are more likely to say this than those aged 40 to 49 -- 60 percent versus 46 percent, respectively. There are no differences by gender.

Among childless adults who say they have some other reason for thinking they will not have children in the future, no reason stands out. 

About 2 in 10 - 19 percent - say it's for medical reasons, 17 percent say it's for financial reasons, and 15 percent say it's because they don't have a partner.

In turn, about one in 10 say their age or their partner's age - 10 percent - or the state of the world - 9 percent - is a reason they don't plan to have children. An additional 5.0 percent cite environmental reasons, including climate change, and 2.0 percent argue that their partner does not want children.

When it comes to parents ages 18 to 49 who say they are unlikely to have more children in the future, again a majority - 63 percent - stress that it's because they simply don't want to. 

Gender does matter here, as fathers - 69 percent - are more likely to say this than mothers - 59 percent - as are fathers under 40 - 71 percent - compared to those 40 to 49 - 57 percent.

Among those under 50 who say there is some other reason they are unlikely to have more children, age, either their own or their partner's, and medical reasons are among the top reasons - 29 percent and 23 percent of this group said so, respectively. 

This is followed by economic reasons ?14 percent? and the fact that they already have children ?11 percent? Smaller shares cite the state of the world ?4 percent?, not having a partner ?2 percent? or having a partner who does not want to have children ?2 percent?

Mothers and fathers generally give similar reasons for saying they are unlikely to have more children, but mothers are more likely than fathers to cite medical reasons -- 27 percent versus 16 percent -- while men are more likely than women to cite already having children -- 18 percent versus 6 percent.

About a quarter of parents under 40 who don't expect to have more children in the future cite financial reasons -- 26 percent -- compared with 8 percent of those aged 40 to 49. 

The younger group is also more likely to mention not having a partner - 6 percent versus 1 percent - while older parents are more likely to say age is a reason they don't expect to have more children - 41 percent of those aged 40 to 49 versus 5 percent of those under 40.

Collapse of babies on the horizon

Overall the U.S. birth rate fell 4.0 percent in 2020 according to provisional data, and a look at December 2020, the month in which babies conceived at the start of the pandemic would have been born, shows an 8.0 percent decline from the previous December, suggesting that women may have postponed pregnancies in response to the current public health crisis.

Other advanced countries have also begun to experience declining birth rates. Italy, Japan, France and Belgium are among the countries that have reported sudden drops in births about nine months after the start of the pandemic, compared with a year earlier.

The overall fertility rate in the U.S. was already at an all-time low before the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2019, there were 58.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, down from 59.1 in 2018, making it the fifth consecutive year that the fertility rate declined.

Notably, birth rates have declined for both U.S.-born and foreign-born women. Still, immigrant women account for a disproportionate share of births in the country among women ages 15 to 44. In 2017, 14 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born, but 23 percent of all births were to immigrant women.

The research center notes that, for decades, a large share of immigrant births in the U.S. were to mothers of Mexican descent -- 42 percent in 2000. 

But the demographic profile of new mothers has changed in recent years as immigration patterns have shifted. Specifically, immigration flows from Latin America have slowed and Asian immigration is increasing. 

As a result, only a quarter of U.S. immigrant births were to Mexican-born women in 2018. Among immigrant women overall, half of all births in 2018 were to Hispanic women, down from 58 percent in 2000.

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