New Realities: Generation Y Aren’t Having (As Many) Kids
Generation Y – often better known as “millennials”; sometimes that word is used pejoratively – are often blamed for ruining things. There are lists aplenty of all the things Gen Y have been considered to be the ruin of, but there’s one that tops the list: having children.
Well, that’s what the headlines tend to say, along with various comments about a ticking time bomb of an aging population. Of course, millennials are having children; but it’s indisputable that Gen Y isn’t reproducing at the same rate as previous generations.
In fact, the average age of having a first child – for women – is creeping towards 30 for the first time. So even when millennials are having children, they’re having them later in life.
So what’s going on? This is a huge shift in family culture that has happened in a startlingly short amount of time. While no one can claim to speak for every single millennial as to their choices, there are a few common themes emerging as reasons for this change.
1. Millennials Can’t Afford It
Right from when women start taking Pregnacare conception tablets through to the moment they give birth, pregnancy alone takes a huge amount of time and resources. Then when you actually have a baby, there’s further expenses to consider.
Many in Gen Y are considering their resources and coming to one conclusion; they’re realising that they can’t afford to have children. That doesn’t mean they won’t at some point in their life, but for the moment, this is a huge contributory factor as to why the birth rate is falling.
With wages stagnating across the globe, there’s no sign of this improving any time soon.
2. Millennials Have Access To More Opportunities
The so-called “traditional” family roles – the stay-at-home mom; the working dad – have been pared back over the past decade. More and more millennials see that lifestyle as a choice, rather than the norm. Plenty are electing to study for longer and work harder in their careers, meaning there’s no time to bring a baby into the picture.
This is clearly reflected in the rising average age of a first-time Mum; no longer do you marry your high school sweetheart and have a baby at 21.
3. Millennials Are Aware Of Other Options
There is a huge “childfree” movement that has changed the way many in Gen Y look at having children. Having children was once basically expected of people; they would marry and they would have children. End of. Now, thanks to the internet, this again is being shown as a choice – and it’s a choice many people are backing away from.
The idea of actively not wanting to have children, in previous generations, would have been considered extremely strange and unusual. To an extent, it still is; plenty of childfree people will experience strong reactions to their pronouncement. However, it’s much more of an accepted lifestyle now, so millennials feel they can opt out.
In conclusion, millennials haven’t “ruined” having children. They are simply able to defer the decision, make more informed choices, and are influenced by their circumstances, than any generation before them.