Young adults are waiting to have children – or opting out altogether.
Becki DeGeest doesn’t know what’s in store for her when she graduates from college this spring. But she knows one thing that’s not in her future: children.
“It’s not in the plan, anyway,” she said.
Even as a young teenager, DeGeest said, her childhood friends fantasized about settling down in their hometowns and raising families, while she just wanted to get out.
“I love kids, but I’ve never really seen myself having kids,” she said, adding that it doesn’t mean she won’t get married.
In fact, the 22-year-old Moorhead woman has been dating her boyfriend, Peter Lonnquist, for more than three years. While they’ve often talked of a future together, neither of them views children as part of the plan.
Surprisingly, they’re not unique among millennials.
A recent study conducted by Stewart Friedman at the University of Pennsylvania showed that the number of recent grads planning to have children dropped by 30 percent from 1992 to 2012. Whether it’s because of financial situations, career choices or the desire to travel, more young people are opting out when it comes to having children.
“For me, it’s the traveling and career aspect of it,” DeGeest said. “For Peter, finance definitely plays a role.”
Others may have different reasons for the same decision.
David Flynn, a University of North Dakota professor of economics, said that many factors play a part in the decision to have kids, and if so, how many. They include the size of one’s own family, one’s religious upbringing and one’s career path.
In general, people who come from families with four or more children often tend to have more children of their own. The same goes for people raised in a religious family.
On the other hand, women who are more career-oriented might opt out because they feel having a child might interrupt their desired career path, Flynn said. This is a decision women have that men don’t necessarily face.
“Depending on what industry you’re in, that may or may not matter,” he said. “For instance, the nursing and teaching professions are, generally speaking, more amenable to the maternity-type leave.” Alternatively, he said, someone with a business career might view having a child as a negative choice that might curb or slow advancement opportunities.
Economic factors play a big role in the decision, as well, because having a child represents a long-term financial commitment.
“With the long-time span of commitment that it has, it does sometimes make people uncertain of how to evaluate and assess that situation,” Flynn said.
Many are finding that the easiest solution is to simply not have kids, while others are waiting until they’re more financially stable or established in their careers.
“The average age [for having children] is steadily rising, and that’s a trend we see almost across the board,” Flynn said.