Children of past generations were an economic boon—contributing labor and household income—now have the opposite effect.
While children of past generations were an economic boon—contributing labor and household income—they now have the opposite effect. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report finds that an average middle-class American couple will spend more than $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013 to age 18; adjusted for inflation, the sum represents a 24 percent rise since 1960. The hefty expense is one reason more couples are considering the child-free life.
The U.S. birthrate is half what it was in 1960, and birthrates in most of Europe have experienced a similar downward trajectory. Other regions are following suit. Euromonitor has forecast that by 2020, the average number of children per household in Asia and Latin America will fall to the global average of 1.0, down from 2.2 and 2.3, respectively, in 1980. As many as one in five women in the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Canada and Australia end their childbearing years without having children, twice as many as a generation ago, according to Maclean’s.
Other factors driving the decline in birthrates include women’s rise in the workforce around the world, the trend toward delaying marriage and children, and changing cultural norms—foregoing kids is becoming more socially acceptable and less likely to be regarded as selfish. Meanwhile, some Millennials may be reluctant to expend the same time and attention as their helicopter parents, and in this high-stress era, apt to see kids as just another stress factor. (A telling book title from 2013: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids.)
The growth of DINKs (dual income, no kids) around the world is giving a boost to high-end brands—in Mexico, for instance, this growing cohort is ”a gold mine for leading brands, and their spending habits are shoring up consumer demand,” per Reuters. Travel brands are increasingly catering to child-free customers, while some marketers are targeting PANKs or PUNKs—the “professional aunts/uncles, no kids” who spend a healthy chunk of discretionary income on the young kids in their lives.
Image credit: NDG Books