Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"We've put off even having kids..."

The Squeeze is a week old, and we've learned this about our readers: They are passionate and compassionate (and sometimes not.) But in their comments, you'll find real pain, real fear, real thought about how our lives are changing.

From one reader, an anonymous commenter:

We've put off even having kids until this depression subsides. If it lasts too long we may not ever have kids. We couldn't bring another life into this world the way things are right now.

In a poll released this past week by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, almost a third of respondents said they are likely to put off having a child until the economy improves. (One fifth said they are likely to hold off on marriage.)

Economic downturns have consistently prompted declines in the U.S. fertility rate. Birthrates dropped their lowest point this century after The Great Depression, then plummeted again to a post-World War II low in 1976, after a recession and oil shortage.

Children, perhaps more than any decision we make, come with personal and financial entanglements (and yes, of course, joy). Do you consider a one-income family - or one plus part-time - when the child arrives? Do you buy a bigger house, or any house, to accommodate a growing family?

Or, do you just wait?

(Here's a calculator to determine the smaller costs for the first year alone. If you want to be fully intimidated, how does $600,000 sound as an infancy-to-college price tag?)

Tell us if the economy is influencing your decision to have a baby - or if it's postponing another kind of major decision.

Your Morning Edge:

Another recession casualty - annual business meetings and conferences, the New York Times reports.

And also, festivals, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Gas is getting expensive again. CNN explains why.

17 comments:

karl hellenthal said...

What do you hope to accomplish with this blog besides spreading fear? More than any one factor - the media created this "depression".

Anonymous said...

Bad idea! A child is life's greatest blessing. Have at least one. You will never regret having a child--you will only regret not having one. Forget the stupid calculators and costs---you may not be able to afford four kids, but don't be so short sighted as to decide to remain childless because of the economy. Of course if you are incapable of making small sacrifices throughout your life to accomodate the financial requirements of a growing child, then you are probably too self centered or selfish to have a child, and remaining childless is the right thing for you. If you value your stuff more than you value relationships and the incredible experience of watching a child grow---then remain childless. But if you really want a child, remember that you just pay for them a little at a time, as they grow, and they don't need private school and expensive clothes and electronics and all the pricey items that some people think of as "necessities". Don't miss sharing your life with a child, or you will always regret it! Raising a child is one of the truly fantastic experiences of life on this earth! Women experience a drastic drop in fertility at age 35, so don't put it off for a few years. A child is worth whatever sacrifice you have to make---in fact, worth far in excess. If you can't afford a big family, just go with one child.

Anonymous said...

Putting off having kids when your personal economic circumstances would make it difficult to support them is the responsible thing to do.

But we will still see some people popping out kids like rabbits and then expecting SOMEONE ELSE to help support them. In a more Darwinian time, we would leave these people to pay for their own mistakes; but in this Brave New World, no one is held accountable for their mistakes unless they are successful enough that it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Get busy living. Money isn't everything and wow - putting off what could be the best experience (or lack there of) because of money?!? I understand the desire to have a little 'nest-egg' before pregnancy - but to put off having children because the economy is off. Really? Sounds like an excuse front to me.

Anonymous said...

WOW, I'm glad my grandparents didn't decide to put off having my mother because of the great depression. Then neither she nor I would be here! I am so tired of human lives being given financial worth or cost. This is a dangerous, slippery slope. Children are priceLESS.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how little one can live with and still be incredibly happy. Children want our love and attention, not things in place of love. Be sure you can feed, clothe and house them, but they don't need their own room, even. Think about the house your grandmother raised children in. It was probably basic with very few things in it. My children always end up playing with the box anyway. love them and give them a box.

Richard said...

look back at the early 1980's. Double digit inflation, Double digit unemployment, mortgage rates at 15% or more. This downturn does not come close. The difference? The 24-7 media negativity. Columns like the squeeze and people like Suzie Orman are the cause. Hopefully, the squeeze will cause enough people to cancel the observer and cancel internet access that the observer (and your job) fades away. See, good things can happen in this economy.

Anonymous said...

If money is the biggest deciding factor re whether a couple has a child, they're better off not reproducing, period. Ick.

Optimist said...

My husband and I are desperately trying for a baby right now because to us it seems like the perfect time -- a time when there won't be any "keeping up with the Joneses" and our child will have smaller classes and a better shot at getting into prestigious colleges with fewer people having babies this year!

Ashley WK said...

My husband and I just had our first baby in October. I was laid off from my job in February 2008. I think the lay off was a blessing in disguise. Now, I stay home and raise our beautiful daughter. I wouldn't trade this time with her for all the money in the world! Yes, our finances are very tight and our priorities have shifted in a big way. I hope to be pregnant with baby #2 by the end of the year.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think it is refreshing to read about someone who is fiscally responsible and is actually thinking about whether or not they can afford a child. Having a child first and then realizing that you can't afford it will not make for a happy childhood. The child will be growing up in an environment where the parents are stressed over money - not ideal. Having kids is overrated. Having kids when you can't afford them (Octomom anyone?) is irresponsible and selfish.

Anonymous said...

Kids are a great thing and should never take a back seat to a flat screen, partying, BIG new house, luxury car, the latest fashions....

That's the problem with an article like this... By making the decision to "put off even having kids" shows just how selfish and self absorbed our society is today. Imagine, one of these kids could cure cancer, be a president, lead a company, or teach a child. We will never know because the easy life is too important.

Anonymous said...

Theses are the things our government should have been telling people long ago. Save money and live conservatively. If you make $40k a year, you probably can't afford a Mercedes. The old American Dream is dead. We need to stop the debt and sprawl.

Anonymous said...

Financial troubles are the number 1 cause of divorce. So with the current potential to have financial issues, possibly going without a job or having to relocate is difficult enough for 2 adults but never mind also having to have to care for a newborn. Not everyone has family they can turn to for help either for financial assistance or child care. So one parent stays home to take care of the child and the other one works. What happens if the only working spouse gets laid off. Then you have a newborn and no income or health insurance. Planning ahead on how to provide the best possible life for your child IS responsible parenting.

Anonymous said...

"Financial troubles are the number 1 cause of divorce."

No, lack of realistic expectations is the number 1 cause of divorce.

Anonymous said...

I feel like my relationship is on hold because of this situation. We can't plan a wedding or a future. We do not like the idea of raising kids in our South Florida neighborhood where we are trapped in an underwater house to the tune of $70,000 underwater that isn't really child friendly, schools are bad, I am not sure it will ever happen now I will be 33 soon and my boyfriend is older. If we have to wait much longer I am just going to give up the idea

Anonymous said...

Why is being responsible considered "selfish". You have kids to serve your own needs....need for love..the close relationship, etc..all of the things that you guys stated. Having a child that you cannot afford to have is selfish and irresponsible. Period. The article is not about chosing a Mercedes or BMW over a child...it's about being worried about being able to feed the child. So, please, just becuse some people chose to have children does not mean that everyone should or even wants to. One person said that "you don't need to send the to private school." That's right, you can send them to the public schools that all of us (even those without children) pay for.