Pew Research Center recently put out some interesting numbers regarding Generation Y-ers, or the “Millennial Generation,” those ages 18-29. Here’s some highlights:
- Millennials are “slower to marry” than previous generations. About 1 in 5 (22%) Millennials are currently married. When Gen Xers were the same age about 3 in 10 were married. When Baby boomers were the same age, 4 in 10 were married. When the now “Silent Generation” (adults 65 and older) was were the same age half were married.
- Out of wedlock births are higher than the previous generation–51% of births to Millennial mothers were women who are not married (2008 data).
- Interestingly, although 4 in 5 are not married, and over half of Millennial mothers have had a child, 63% of Millennials think that single motherhood is “bad for society.”
- Parenthood numbers overall: Declined. 2010 numbers indicate that 36% of women had ever had children, down from 41% in 1998.
- How many Millennials eventually want children? 74% of those who have been married and have no children, say they eventually want children; 73% of those who have never been married and have no children say they eventually want children.
- How many say they never want children? 7%
While these and other data in the report are worth checking out, I have to say what would be more interesting is to be able to track the Y-ers over time. People are waiting longer and longer to have children, with a recent spike of women in their early 40s having their first child. So a few of my questions include:
How many of those who thought they wanted children when they were 29 and under eventually actually had children, at what age and how many? How many who thought they wanted them ending up not having them by choice, and what were the reasons?
These kind of questions inspired me to do a longitudinal study of childfree 20-somethings. I started the study last summer. Once a year for 10 years I am going to survey a group of 40 childfree women, ages 20-29 now. I want to track their childfree choice over time.
I would love to do the same for childfree guys in the same age range. I am still looking for childfree men in their 20s, so if you are interested in participating, let me know~!
As far as the Pew report, 20-somethings out there and those that know them, does the data reflect what you see out there? Why or why not?
I dunno, I mean it’s hard to say… most of the people my age that I speak with literally never talk about kids. Music, love, sex, parents, friends, everything else but HAVING kids. My assumption from the few trace moments that I’ve strained my brain to recall is that most assume they will have them someday. But some of my friends are in their late 20s, they’d better start getting on that if they really want it (lol.) In terms of the people I know, they’re just so focussed on self-fulfillment and oftentimes, even getting ESTABLISHED since it’s slow to happen to worry or even think about having kids, it just seems really far off.
I can definitely see almost all of them doing the Carrie Bradshaw freak-out re. this issue at 38-years-old, personally.
20something–thanks for the thoughts–what is it about them now that makes you predict they will do the Carrie Bradshaw thing at 38? ~L
Just the fact that they’ll realize they put it off too long and their biological time is running out. Who knows how many of them will even be ready by then. I guess we all have better things to worry about…
I find this Gen Y news interesting and surprising. With the way childfree numbers have been increasing, I would think more than 7% would say they don’t want children. Do you know how big the data pool was?
On a side note: Do you know what happened to Unscripted: The Childfree Life. (Unscripted.net) I can’t find the website anymore, and I have an article I wanted to quote. Thanks! (Great website!) -K
Hi — Yes the 7% seems low, but as I mention, it will be ineresting to see what happens to those numbers as over time as they get older. The data pool I bet is in the longer report (get to from link) and I am sure is reliable and valid, as Pew research does some of the best social science research nt he country…
As far as unscripted, I took the domain name and have copies all all articles that appreared. Let me know the title of it, or whatever you know and I will get you the by line! ~L
The women in my social circle first started expressing interest in the idea of kids recently, (we’re 27-28 and I’ve known them for over a decade). None of us planned on WANTING children let alone supporting families. So at this point we don’t have the financial means to do so, although we’re very educated. When we discuss having children, it always seems like something that “might” happen in 5 years or more (if all of us find the right guy and are still able.) I kind of doubt it will make sense even by then. There aren’t too many rich, baby-ready dudes walking around for my friends to date. My point is, a few more years down the road at 38 seems like a good point in time for having a freakout.
Basically since we’re rational people we won’t procreate unless we’re financially secure. We’ll be spending our most fertile years trying to get established, and then see what’s left over sans IVF. I know some people call this stupidity, but there’s no real option here save freezing eggs. (Got 10k? Um…) Where do other young couples find the means to pay their hospital bills, is what I’d like to know. Are they all in debt?
I blame the economic downturn for our lack of flexibility. Back in the Clinton era if you had any brains you could just “decide” to be rich.
Growing up upper-middle class, no one ever told me I’d get a degree, work full-time but be too poor to have a family, although I’m not completely convinced kids are right for me and my partner. It’s definitely making me less and less inclined to want kids at all. To suppress any desire for it.
Late20s, Very informative, and I get how in today’s time the whole financial thing is a very important component to “when” and “whether” re kids. Thank goodness you and your circle and hope many like you have such a responsible attitude towards this~L
I am a millennial and many of my friends (in mid- to late-20s) are already having babies. Still, I have a few friends who seem to think that they can deliberately wait until their late 30s, early 40s to have them. I’m thinking that because of my generation’s overall tendency to delay the decision to get married and have children, we’re going to have a lot of accidentally childless people because they become infertile with age.
Valerie, thanks for writing. There are more women starting to have babies in their forties..but often you have to have the bucks for invitro 😉
27, Female, just moved in with my boyfriend of 3 years (he’s about 34). I’ve had a rather rough upbringing and never really thought about having children until recently. I had a permanent tubal done about a year ago. I knew that I never wanted to subject a child to the horrors that life sometimes has for people. I also had a lot of fears like weather I would end up being unable to love my child, that it wouldn’t love me, or that I might not do right by it. It was a difficult decision for me, but no question it was definitely the right one. I’m just grateful my boyfriend is very supportive because I’ve heard so many disparaging comments about my choice.
Heresy, thanks for writing. You are sure not alone in coming to your cf decision..I wish more people had the capacity to take an honest look at their readiness, willingness, and true level of desire for wanting a child (and why they have or do not have the desire) before just jumping into it. We are often accused of being “immature” but thinking hard about such a big choice before just doing it sure seems to reflect maturity to me…~L
I’m 27 years old and childfree, and my friends’ life situations are a big mix. I find it interesting that we have more single moms than previous generations. Given that, it’s not surprising that 63% of us think that single parenthood is bad for society. We have seen it in action among our friends more than our ancestors. For example, the president of the NHS when I was in high school walked across the stage 8 months pregnant during the inauguration ceremony!
Among my millennial friends, it seems like most of the ones who really wanted kids have had them already (married or not). My facebook news feed has been going nuts with baby bumps the past couple years! I have some childless friends who are feeling the baby rabies, but in addition to half a dozen childfree friends, I have a lot of friends who are ambivalent about it. They’ll say, “If I have kids,” not “when I have kids.” I think we’re starting to see it as more of an option, and again, trying to arrange hang-out time with our childed friends in high school might have turned a good chunk of us off it.
I agree with 20something. What I see happening is a lot of my friends just putting it off so long that it is no longer an (easy) option. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of my childless friends end up with only 1 kid.
I’m a millennial, 26 years old. I’m unmarried and childfree though I’ve been living with my boyfriend for 7 years. I have no intentions of marrying, nor do I have any desire to do so. Reason? It always seemed (and still does) that marriage has very little to do with how successful a relationship is in the long term. Plus, I don’t get what getting the government involved in a very personal matter has to do with anything. If two people, regardless of gender, want to be together then let it be! Why does the government have to be informed? (Yes, yes I know for practical reasons like community property, wills, etc. Still, doesn’t make any real sense to me.)
Childfree?? Always was and always will be. I’m an early articulator; I decided I didn’t want children when I was around 8-9 years old. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason that made me decide, it was more like “nothing about the idea looks good or interests me in any way, shape or form” and I haven’t looked back since. We live in an age where having children is a life style choice rather than a necessity. So why bother with extra work when you don’t have to? In terms of being a woman, this is the first time in 2,000 years (correct me if I’m wrong) that women are really free to do what they want with their lives. Why not take advantage of that? We already know what having a life with procreating entails, why not choose the road less travelled?
Hi somethingrandom~thanks for writing! A study of early articulators really needs to be done–I wonder what if anything we all have in common? I agree that we now live in a time where women are freer to do what they want with their lives than ever before. However, as long as the not wanting to become a mother has judgments associated with it, and it is not treated as and equally valid choice with having children, many would argue we haven’t arrived at true and reproductive freedom ….yet. ~L
i am doing a study on this in my sociology of family senior seminar. Do you know of any peer reviewed or scholarly articles or findings which relate to this topic. As a 26 year old married for two years I feel no where near ready for children. How is the economy the media and individual happiness effecting our generation’s choice to put off childbearing for so long now if children become a choice at all?