After 30-plus years in her career, Donna is counting down the months until retirement. She gleefully shares with me everything she has planned for when she can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. But in the middle of her excitement, something turns her mood. She clenches her fists and asks me demandingly, “Where are my grandbabies?”
Donna is not alone. While I can’t speak to her particular grandbaby-less predicament, I can say that her experience is part of a much bigger trend – one with serious implications for the Baby Boomers’ retirement plans.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing that the birthrate has dropped to an all-time low in the United States. It seems that the Millennials just aren’t having kids, or at least they’re not having them yet. The only cohort of women showing an uptick in first time births are women over 35 years old. In fact, the rate of first time births for women between ages 40 and 44 years old doubled between 1990-2012.
Observers have suggested a number of reasons why Millennials are proving slow to have children. Some point to economics. Although the recession has been over for nearly a decade, there may be a lasting economic insecurity that is causing young would-be parents to think twice before procreating. Others assert that student debt has delayed parenthood. Perhaps.
Given these pressures, pragmatic Millennials have simply concluded that raising children is too expensive. A recent New York Times articleinterviewed a 32-year-old woman who wants to wait until her career is further along before having kids. “Once I achieve a certain level of success,” she says, “then I’ll start thinking about a family.”