At 24 years old, El Johnson has made a decision that he will not have children, although she and her girlfriend have not ruled out adoption. The graduate student who works in legal services in Austin, Texas, has a list of reasons why she does not plan to have children: The climate crisis and genetic disease, among others.
I don’t think it’s responsible for bringing children into this world,” Johnson said. “Children are already looking for a home. I don’t know what the world will be like in 20, 30 or 40 years.”
In fact, she’s so convinced she’s childless that her tubes will be removed soon. It was a deterrent decision driven by the fall of Roe vs. Wade and with the severe restrictions on abortion services in his state and throughout the country.
Other women interviewed cited the climate crisis, as well as massive student debt and inflation, as reasons they will never become mothers. Some young men are also making the same decision and others are trying to have vasectomies.
Whatever the reason, it has an effect on the birth rate
The US birth rate fell 4% in 2020, the biggest annual decline in nearly 50 years, according to a government report. The government recorded a 1% increase in births last year, but the number of children born was still lower than before the coronavirus pandemic: about 86,000 less than in 2019.
Walter and Kyah King live in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Walter, a 29-year-old sports data scientist, and Kyah, a 28-year-old college career counselor, they are together for almost 10 years, the last four were married. They both realized they didn’t want children.
It was in our early 20s that we started to change our minds,” said Kyah. “We moved to California and were really starting our adult lives. I think we talked about having three kids at some point. But with the economy and the situation around the world, and thinking about the logistics of bringing children into the world, that’s when we started to have doubts.”
Finance is the biggest thing. Before taxes, they both earn about $160,000 a year. Kyah has $120,000 in student debt, and Walter has about $5,000 left to pay. The couple said they could not afford to buy a house and afford the expenses of a single child. without making great sacrifices that they are not willing to make.
But for Kyah, the decision goes far beyond money. “I believe we would be very good parents, but going to our health system to give birth is a terrible idea. Black women, black mothers, are not treated the same way as white mothers,” said Kyah, who is African American.
When Kyah’s IUD expires, Walter said that he will consider having a vasectomy, a procedure that has become more common among men under the age of 30 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jordan Davidson interviewed more than 300 people for a book that came out in December titled ‘So When Are You Having Kids?’ (So when will they have children?) Because of the pandemic, he said, many people are putting off having children among those who are even considering that option.
These deadlines that people have created for themselves have changed, like ‘I want to achieve X in three years’. People weren’t necessarily willing to change goals and say, ‘OK, I’m going to give up on these accomplishments and do this differently,’” he said. “People still want to travel. He wants to continue his postgraduate studies. It still needs certain financial benchmarks.”
Concerns about climate change have cemented the idea of living without children for many, Davidson said.
“Now, with more wildfires, droughts, heat waves, it suddenly becomes really, ‘OK, this is happening in my time, and what’s this going to be like in my children’s lifetime? ?’ , said.
In New York City, Emily Shapiro, a 23-year-old copywriter for a pharmaceutical advertising agency, earns $60,000 a year, lives at home with her parents and saves money, and has never wanted children.
“They are sticky. I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby covered in ice cream. I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I don’t want to change a diaper. If I did, I wouldn’t want them until they were in sixth grade. Also, I think the Earth is not very good, so it would be unfair“, said.
Among those interviewed by Jordan, concern about the environment was much more common among the younger group. Affordability issues concern both millennials and members of Generation Z, he noted. “There’s a lot of fear of children being worse off than they saw themselves as children,” Davidson said.
Dannie Lynn Murphy, who helps find computer engineers for Google, said she was about 17 years old when child protective services removed her from her home because of a pattern of child abuse. His wife, he said, was also brought up in a “not very good” environment.
Both of us, at one point, would have said ‘yes’ to the children,” she said. “In my late teens and early adulthood, I saw and understood the appeal and was drawn to the idea of being able to raise someone differently than I was raised. But the practical realities of the child are bullshit.”
Murphy earns about $103,000 a year, with bonuses and perks that can rise to $300,000. His wife earns about $60,000 as a lawyer. They don’t own their house in Seattle.
I can’t see myself doing a mortgage, let alone a baby,” said Murphy, 28. “I think the main reason is economic. I’d rather spend that money on travel than spend half a million dollars on raising a child. Secondly, there is a fear that we will behave with our children as our parents behaved with us”.
Alyssa Persson, 31, grew up in a small town in South Dakota. Get married and have children it was ingrained in the culture, he noted. It wasn’t until he got divorced that he took a step back and asked himself what he really wanted.
“Most of the women I’m from lose their identity during my fatherhood,” said Persson, who now lives in St. Louis. Louis and earns about $47,000 a year as a university librarian.
He has about $80,000 in student loan debt. Persson is a former teacher who loves children, but she thinks she thinks more clearly than ever about the costs, implications and sacrifices of parenthood.
“Having children seems like a trap to me, to be honest,” she said. “Financially, socially, emotionally and physically. And if there was ever any doubt, the thought that I can’t comfortably support myself on my salary is enough to push the thought away completely.”
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