“No to kids” is a common outlook for the rising Gen Z population in the United States, but this is as much a global phenomenon as it is a growing ideology in the United States.
Generation Z is historically setting a new record with fewer childbirths in recent years. Younger women, in addition to men, are choosing not to have children due to a lack of personal desire, the expenses and other available options such as adoption,
A survey of 40 students who attend, or have recently attended, the College of the Sequoias were asked–” Do you want to have kids?”
Of students surveyed on the Visalia Campus at the College of the Sequoias 47.5 % of students answered “No” to having children while 42% answered “Yes” to having children. There were 10% that were undecided and in the middle of the conversation.
“I do want kids eventually in my life,” said 17-year-old Savannah Gasca, a high school student who also attends COS.
At the Grind coffee shop at COS19-year-old Ulises Villalobos scoffed at the question, and he answered confidently, “No I don’t want kids. Nobody wants to have kids anymore. If I want to spend money, I want to spend it on me.”
Standing next to him, Seth Rowell added,” If you have kids you have to raise them until they are 18—that is unless you are a bad parent. No, I don’t want kids.”
“In my opinion it is [my] partner’s choice, because she will give birth. But yes I want kids…just not right now,” said Spencer Bear, a 19-year-old.
“I had this argument with my co-workers– men might I add, and they told me I was wrong. And, that I will change my mind…and my opinion doesn’t matter because I am young,” said Elizabeth Rivera.
Rivera, a 19-year-old student, explains she does not want kids, compared to her mother that wanted kids at her age. She expands by telling a little bit about her mother’s life. As an only child that immigrated from Mexico it was her mother’s duty to translate for her Spanish-speaking only parent. Elizabeth acknowledges this separation in ideas is a cultural difference.
Many students that responded “Yes” to having children said they were waiting to later in life, which highlights a theme of Generation Z, waiting until they are older before having children, which is different in comparison to Baby Boomers.
In the United States, birthrates have decreased 16% from 2010 to 2020, according to the Pew Research center. In a study conducted in all the states of 1,000 women ages 15-44 California was averaging a the steepest decline of 24.6% fertility rates.
The cost of having a child has increased, according to the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it now costs $310,000 dollars to raise a child up to the age of 18. Inflation makes the situation worse increasing by 8.5%, add to that the pandemic, and starting a family is more expensive than ever in the United States.
Though finances are a factor, many experts in the field say the decline in US birthrates cannot be explained by demographic, economic, or policy changes.
To maintain the population at its current level each woman needs to give birth to an average of 2.1 children during their lifetime. The United States currently has a birthrate of 1.64. The population of the United States is growing but that is only due to immigration.
This is a worldwide trend.
From 1985 to 2015 China strictly enforced a one child policy, and the consequences of that policy are adversely affecting the country today even though it has been reversed. Birthrates continue to decrease every year with only 480,000 births last year, which is low compared to the past decade according to World economic Forum analysis of China’s National Bureau of Statistics. As the working-class (young people) diminishes, China will not have enough workers to care for the older generations.
South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world with only .9 births per woman. As a result, the government is paying a sum of 1 million Won (or $750) monthly to parents that have kids in an effort to increase the childbirth population, according to the Japanese Times. For some in Korea, this allowance is not enough to support the total expenses of raising a child.
The Roe vs. Wade effect
The decision not to have a child, or to have a child, is a vocal part of feminism.
Childbirth has always been a personal matter for women, but more so now– the choice to have a child or not has been restricted in many states since the Supreme Court has recently overruled the decades-long precedent of Roe. V Wade.
For other Gen Z women, having children is physical transformation they want do not want to undergo. “I don’t want my body to change it would make feel…dysphoric. It would be too much for me,” said a College of the Sequoias student, anonymously for fear of criticism.
“If I want kids that badly I will adopt,” said Chloe Meza, a 19-year-old College of the Sequoias student. Students don’t think having children is that important because options like adoption are available, or they can rely on siblings to have kids.
Gen Z is known for their mental health awareness, and this might play a role in how future generations are raised. The emphasis on healing from past trauma shows a shift in personal views from past generations. Generation Z is comprised of children born from 1997 to 2012, yet finding the exact dates is difficult. The oldest Gen Z is in their early twenties and the youngest is ten to nine years old.
“I want to have kids. I think for this generation it is more about parenting than wanting to have kids,” said Daisy Frias a 20-year-old College of the Sequoias student.