Nov. 22, 2021 — More U.S. adults who don’t already have children are saying they don’t plan to have any in the future, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.
Birthrates dropped in the U.S. during the pandemic, marking a decline for the sixth year in a row. Fertility rates in the U.S. were already at a record low before the pandemic, the center reported.
As part of the poll, non-parents ages 18-49 answered the question, “Thinking about the future, how likely is it that you will have children someday?”
About 44% said it’s “not too likely” or “not at all likely” that they will have children someday, which is up 7 percentage points from the 37% who said the same in a 2018 Pew survey. What’s more, 74% of adults under 50 who are parents said they aren’t likely to have more kids.
By contrast, 26% of childless adults said it’s “very likely” they will have kids, which is down from 32% in 2018. About 29% said “somewhat likely” both this year and in 2018.
Among parents and non-parents, men and women were equally likely to say they probably won’t have kids in the future. Adults in their 40s were more likely to say they wouldn’t have kids.
When asked for a reason, 56% of non-parents said they simply don’t want to have kids. Childless adults under age 40 were more likely to say this than those ages 40-49. There were no differences between men and women.
Beyond that, 43% cited reasons such as medical issues, economic or financial concerns, and not having a partner. A smaller number of people cited their age or their partner’s age, the “state of the world,” environmental concerns, and climate change.
Parents also cited medical issues and financial concerns as the top reasons why they probably wouldn’t have more kids. Mothers were more likely to mention medical issues, and fathers were more likely to cite already having kids. About 26% of parents under age 40 cited financial concerns.
The poll points to long-term trends in parenthood in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. In April, the Census Bureau reported that in the last decade, the U.S. population grew at the second-slowest rate for any 10-year period since the country was founded.
Other recent surveys have pointed to the costs of childcare, health care, and education as reasons to postpone or not have kids, the newspaper reported. Global instability, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change have also led to changing attitudes about marriage, children, and life priorities.