Stateside
5:07 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

The U.S. birth rate is at a record low as more couples choose to remain child-free

It seems the Great Recession--the lingering economic worries, the slow-poke recovery--all of that seems to have made people more hesitant than ever to take "the baby plunge."

U.S. births are at a record low. Last year saw 63 births per 1000 women. Put that into context. Around a century ago, that figure was 127 births per 1000 women.

So we are at the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking America's fertility.

And our next guest is not surprised.

Laura Scott is a life coach, she's the author of "Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless By Choice." And she's the director of the "Childless by Choice Project."

So what is causing couples to make this decision?

“Mostly it’s postponement. There is wide acceptance of the process of coupling up and waiting to have children,” said Scott. “Also, demographers and social scientists around the world see lower birthrates as a consequence of female education and empowerment. In many of today’s economies, the survival and wellbeing of women and their families are no longer really dependent on the number of children that they bear.”

Of course, there is a possible ripple effect from this. In the future we could see a shortage of young workers entering the work force, more couples choosing not to get married, and even harder times getting school millages to pass.

There will have to be a balancing act between the needs of those with kids and those without. But Scott points out that just because someone has decided to stay child-free does not mean they do not have children in their life.

“A lot of the disposable income, the discretionary income that the child-free have are utilized in helping their nieces and nephews get a college education,” said Scott. “You can contribute as a parent, you can raise the next generation, or you can find another way to express your being and contribute in that way.”

And, many couples who choose to not have kids do not regret their choice.

“[Studies] don’t find there is any more regret, or there is less regret, than there are when they ask questions around wellbeing with parents,” Scott said. “I think one of the reasons that is true is that one someone has made this choice or resigned themselves to the fact that ‘hey, I will probably never have children,’ they start building their lives differently.”

Ultimately, what couples need to think about when it comes to kids is whether it is a “want” or a “should” and who is influencing this decision.

To learn more, visit childlessbychoiceproject.com

Listen to the full interview above.