A Third of Americans Don't Plan on Having Kids Largely Due to Costs

A new study shows that 1 in 5 parents of children under age 18 say the cost of childcare is their biggest financial stressor.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published February 29, 2024
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The increasing costs of raising a child are becoming more than many Americans are willing to bear. A new survey conducted by NerdWallet of nearly 2,000 US adults found that just a quarter of parents of minor children plan to have more children, and only 27 percent of non-parents under age 60 plan to have any children at all.

While changes in culture, expectations and lifestyle certainly come into play, when it comes to whether or not to have a kid or more kids for that matter, the second most popular reason outside of “not wanting kids” largely hinges on increasing costs.

According to the survey, 31 percent of Americans under age 60 who aren’t parents say they don’t plan to have kids because the overall cost of raising a child is too high. When it comes to those who already have children, around 1 in 5 parents of kids under 18 say they don’t plan to have more kids for the same reason.

Upon a closer look, the biggest part of this increase in cost nets out childcare. According to stats from NerdWallet’s annual household debt study, annual childcare costs of $7,572 (based on the $631-a-month average rate), come out to 10 percent of gross income per child.

If you take home 70 percent of your gross pay after taxes and deductions, that’s 14 percent of your net income, conservatively. With these high costs, it’s no wonder that 1 in 5 parents of children under age 18 say the cost of childcare is their biggest financial stressor.

Parents are seemingly finding a way to make things work, though. Around 1 in 6 parents say they and their partner work or worked opposite shifts to avoid child care, and the same proportion work or worked from home and in order to care for their children. Twenty-seven percent also noted that child-related costs became more manageable once their children started full-time school.

Outside of soaring childcare costs, there are other costly barriers to having additional kids. Around 7 percent of parents say they can’t afford to take time off from work for parental leave, while 6 percent say the cost of infertility treatments is too high and another 6 percent say the cost of adoption is too high.

If you are a parent looking to for ways to help mitigate the rising cost of childcare for your family, check out The Bump’s Childcare Guide.

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