A growing share of U.S. adults who aren’t already parents say they probably won’t have children, citing reasons such as apathy, financial instability or the lack of a partner.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 say it’s not too likely, or not at all likely, that they will have children someday, an increase of 7 percentage points from the 37% who said the same in 2018.
The survey doesn’t bode well for a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. fertility rates, which have been hammered by the public health and economic crises caused by the pandemic. The number of babies born in the country fell 4% to about 3.6 million in 2020, the largest decline since 1973, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Before she married her husband, Kiersten Little considered him ideal father material. “We were always under the mentality of, ‘Oh yeah, when you get married, you have kids,” she said. “It was this expected thing.”
Expected, that is, until the couple took an eight-month road trip after Ms. Little got her master’s degree in public health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“When we were out west — California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho — we were driving through areas where the whole forest was dead, trees knocked over,” Ms. Little said. “We went through southern Louisiana, which was hit by two hurricanes last year, and whole towns were leveled, with massive trees pulled up by their roots.”