Millennials don’t think having children is important, and those who do don’t have time to spend with them.
The subtitle for this post should be: Life sure isn’t what it used to be.
A study from the US Department of Commerce finds that Millennials think education and career are far more important than marriage and having children.(1) Marriage is still likely to happen, but may be delayed until age 45, after traditional child-bearing years are done.(2)
As a result, we’re seeing a decline in the current rate of marriage. Divorces are down but that’s because fewer people are getting married.(3)
In general college-educated women benefit from later marriage. Women lacking college degrees have more difficult lives as a result of this trend.(4) Among other things it can mean more single parent households if they do have children, and financial distress.
One commentator comes right out and says: if you want to save a relationship, don’t have children.(5) Kids create stresses that many marriages can’t survive. The implicit question: What’s more important — career, marriage, or kids?
On time for kids:
In the stereotype — or life as it was for many back in the 1950s and 60s, when I grew up — kids when to school, came home, the mother was there to greet them, the father came home for dinner, there was homework time, and then bed, with sufficient sleep to be fresh and alert the next day. Maybe that really happened.
Not anymore. Consider these nuggets from the Census Bureau:
- 43% of children in the United States live with a parent who works outside the typical Monday through Friday daytime hours
- Half of all children who live with two parents have a parent who works a nonstandard schedule
- 30% of children living with only their mother have a parent working a nonstandard schedule
- 37% of children living with only their father have a parent working a non standard schedule(6)
Either the kids have to see themselves off to school, or the parent isn’t there when they get home or isn’t around to supervise homework. Or parents aren’t around on weekends.
For economic reasons, many parents have to carry more than one job, which makes them very scarce at home.
Family time? Forgetaboutit.
Of course, government provides only patchwork, inadequate assistance with childcare in most areas of the US. Some advocates of “family values” long ago argued that childcare was detrimental to families. How it can be worse than the current situation is hard to imagine.(7) One of the stranger arguments is an attempt by Rush Limbaugh to link daycare with mass shootings.(8)
An article in the National Review note that with regard to the economic benefits of daycare,
Conservatives in particular have been slow to realize the benefits of these policies, but 2017 offers the GOP a huge opportunity to change that.(10)
Nope, that didn’t happen either.
As with most government policies, opposition to daycare by conservatives has produced unintended consequences. In this case, groups that live most frequently in extended family arrangements are reproducing (Hispanics and Asians) while those who don’t (Caucasians) have cut way down on having children.(11) In extended families, grandparents can provide free childcare that atomized families don’t have available.(12)
Within the next 15 years, that will bring dramatic change to US society, as whites drop to minority status.(13) In some areas, it’s already happened. The City of Dallas, Texas, and Prince William County, the second largest county in Virginia, are obvious examples. Non-Hispanic whites are 29% of Dallas, and 46% of Prince William, a county with more than 450,000 residents. Welcome to the future.
- Change is inevitable.
- The US is changing.
- Immigration has almost nothing to do with this change.
- Shortsightedness by voters and politicians is facilitating changes they don’t necessarily want.
VC: For what started as a single paragraph about time management, this was a lot of fun to write.
- Jonathan Vespa, “The Changing Economics and Demogrpahics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016,” Current Population Reports, April 2017. Also reported at https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/millenials-marriage-children-higher-education-career-jobs-report-united-states-census-bureau-a7695881.html
- Lynda Laughlin, “Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangments: Spring 2011,” Household Economic Studies, US Census Bureau.