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Why Many Millennials Have Decided to Be Childfree (And That’s Okay)

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Childfree Millennials

According to a new report from Negative Population Growth Inc., millennials aren’t having enough children to replace the generation before them. In 2010, the United States total fertility rate was 2.1, which kept pace with the overall deaths. However, the most recent data puts the total fertility rate at 1.8, which indicates a negative population growth. To put it simply, Millennials are causing a “baby bust.”

Just why are millennials opting out of the childrearing game? Like so many things today, the answer to this question is surprisingly complex — and if you ask the members of Generation Y themselves why they’re foregoing parenthood, you’re likely to get some pretty thought-provoking responses.

Financial Instability

This should come as no surprise, but most millennials are in dire straits when it comes to their financial situation. Millennials are not only drowning in student loan debt, they’re facing higher levels of under and unemployment than the generations before them. Their bills are high, their income is low — they can barely afford to pay rent and feed themselves, let alone take on the financial responsibilities of raising a child.

Many millennials look at the current and future state of their finances and conclude that having a child would be impractical. They simply can’t afford to be parents. Furthermore, rationally and morally they know it’s unfair to bring a child into the world when they can’t give them the life they deserve.

Health Woes

One of the most oft-cited reasons I hear when millennials talk about their reasons for being childfree is their mental and physical health. Some don’t want to pass on genetic disorders to their children. Others have mental health issues and pregnancy would require cessation of the medications that control their symptoms. Still, others have anxiety or trauma disorders that are triggered by the noise and stress that comes with raising children.

There are also far more millennial women than previous generations that feel comfortable enough to discuss not wanting to have children because of the process of pregnancy itself. Some women are disturbed by the risks associated with pregnancy (perineal tears, urinary incontinence, painful intercourse, etc.) and the high rate of maternal death in the U.S. Others are tokophobic — they have a fear of pregnancy and childbirth, feeling terror, disgust, and revulsion at the idea of carrying a child to term and giving birth. Either way, the fact that they’re more open to having these conversations is a big step forward in tearing down the social constructs that insist that all women want to have children.

Social and Environmental Concerns

Many members of Generation Y are genuinely concerned about the future of the planet. The looming consequences of climate change are incredibly alarming, and the problem isn’t being properly dealt with. Hence, millennials aren’t sure it even makes sense to bring children into the world when they may have to endure an increasingly bleak future.

There’s also the threat of overpopulation. According to Norwich University, by 2025, two-thirds of the population will face water scarcity or stress. By 2030, 50 percent of the world will need more food, 45 percent will need more energy, and 30 percent will need more water. If the threat of overpopulation isn’t handled, 3 billion people will be living in poverty; less land and increased competition for resources will lead to more conflict; and we will see a surge in the spread of virus and disease. By choosing not to have children, millennials are actively helping conserve resources and protect the population.

Personal Choice

Some millennials simply don’t want kids. They’re not willing to give up their freedom or independence. Some want to concentrate on their careers while others wish to spend their time and money on travel and hobbies. Many choose to focus on their relationships with their partner, friends, and family members. They feel complete without children. Finally, some have no desire to be a parent — and they’re not willing to subject a child to an environment where they are not wanted.

However, members of Gen Y are having serious issues obtaining permanent birth control. Doctors are reluctant to sterilize young women and men for fear that they’ll “change their mind” and file malpractice suits. Furthermore, less invasive sterilization methods have yet to see any real innovation. Essure, a permanent birth control device that promised an answer to tubal ligation, has caused serious health issues for thousands of women due to improper clinical testing and the removal of appropriate warning labels by the FDA. And for men, a vasectomy is the only form of permanent sterilization — there are no other options.

The decision to be childfree is a highly personal one, yet it’s one that is questioned by friends, family members, healthcare providers, and strangers alike. The truth is whether it’s prompted by financial problems, health concerns, anxiety over the future of the planet, or a simple lack of desire, millennials don’t owe anyone an explanation on why they choose to be childfree.

Why Many Millennials Have Decided to Be Childfree (And That's Okay)

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Also by Liz: Let’s Stop Putting Burden Of Safe Sex On Women: Why Millennials Want Male Birth Control

Related: Why Not Having Children Doesn’t Make Me Selfish

5 Ways Millennials Are Breaking With Tradition–And Redefining Adulthood

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Photo: Pixabay

Liz Greene
Liz Greene is a makeup enthusiast, rabid feminist, and an anxiety-ridden realist from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her latest misadventures on her blog, Three Broke Bunnies
  • Amalia Koch

    i think they are responsible people. who are thinking about the child. and they dont have the child only because they have to.

  • Collin Carp

    Population in the West is declining, so why should millenials be worried about overpopulation if they are not contributing to the population growth? Most of the worlds population growth is coming out of India and China.

    https://www.populationpyramid.net/china/2016/
    As you can see in this chart, China’s population is going to peak within the next 10-15 years, then start to taper off as people continue to age.

    https://www.populationpyramid.net/india/2016/
    India’s population is still growing and not expected to peak until 2070 or so.

    You are on the right track by bringing up the economic factors. The reason things are so unaffordable and why there are so few opportunities is because of the government and central bank intervention. The government has strangled industry with regulations and taxes, which is killing innovation and new job creation. They are protecting big business and corporate profits at the expense of the population. The central banks have destroyed the purchasing power of our currency with inflation, i.e., expanding the money supply, and blown the biggest asset bubble in human history. Millenials should be the most pissed off about the bank bailouts and quantitative easing that started after the crash in 2008, because there should have been a massive deflation, which would have made everything more affordable. Instead of letting the markets correct, the Federal Reserve stepped in with QE and started buying up all of the toxic assets, which created an artificial demand and propped up the inflated prices of real estate, equities, etc. The central bank and the government stuffed their faces and here we are fighting over the crumbs. The real monster is debt, i.e., consuming in the present at the expense of the future.

    Did you know that having children actually stimulates the economy? It’s an investment for sure; one that takes almost a lifetime to pay off in a nominal sense. It’s also an insurance policy. Not having kids is fine, but just think about how little society cares about old people. When people get old, just about the only ones who will still care about them are their kids. I personally don’t want to become a lonely old man in a nursing home, with nobody coming to visit me. If you have kids and invest time into raising them well, hopefully they will take care of you when you are old and unable to take care of yourself anymore.

    Anyways, I hope you consider some of the things I’ve said. Let me know if you disagree. Peace and love!

    • Ms. Buzzkill

      You’ll still be lonely in that nursing home even if you have kids. You’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise.

      Honestly, having kids in this day and age is not worth it at all.

      • Yes, unfortunately having kids isn’t an insurance against feeling lonely *at all*. Thank you for sharing!

  • Geneva Cacioppo

    Hi, I didn’t decide. It was decided for my by society by manufacturing a wage-slavery that means the costs of my living are unsustainable let alone can not afford a child. But I will not let my genetic line be stopped by that. I think I should take a page out of the immigrants now and before me, and just have them anyway, consequences be damned. I will not be brainwashed to think something natural is selfish.

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