A growing share of U.S. adults who aren’t already parents say they probably won’t have children, citing reasons such as apathy, financial instability or the lack of a partner.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 say it’s not too likely, or not at all likely, that they will have children someday, an increase of 7 percentage points from the 37% who said the same in 2018.
The survey doesn’t bode well for a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. fertility rates, which have been hammered by the public health and economic crises caused by the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a 4% drop in births to the nation to approximately 3.6 million babies in 2020. This is the biggest decline in number since 1973.
President Joe Biden’s signature social-spending bill, which passed the House on Friday, marked a dramatic shift toward boosting support for families with children after decades of government benefits that skewed toward the elderly.
One-third of $1.75 trillion in spending is dedicated to strengthening families via direct cash payments and subsidized childcare.
Although the reasons for not having children vary sharply, the main one given by childless adults is simply that they don’t want any. The medical reason is 19% while the financial one is 17%. A quarter of those who have lost a partner blamed it on the inability to find one, while 10% blamed their partner’s age and 17% blamed the current state of the world. About 20% of those who want to stop having children cite the environment, including climate change.
Among adults under 40 who are already parents, about one-quarter don’t expect to have more children due to the financial cost involved, while three in 10 say they’re too old.
This survey included 3,866 adult Americans aged 18 to 49. It was completed Oct. 18-24.