Many US parents dream of having more children. Financial worries are holding them back

www.iol.co.za
6 min read
fairly easy
The gap between the number of children people would like and the number they expect to have is at an all-time high in the United States.
Whitney Klemm and her husband had always dreamed of having three children. They both have good-paying, stable jobs – she manages contracts for a large dairy manufacturer in Utah and he is a project manager for an oil and gas services company – so she thought their joint income would more than enough to cover the cost. But then came their daughter, now two years old, and their son, now seven months. "I had no idea how much it was going to cost," Klemm, 34, said of having children. Taking several weeks of unpaid leave after each child's birth put the family behind. And the $2 000 (about R30 000) a month they pay for both children to go to a child care centre full time eats up nearly 20% of the family's disposable income, she said: "I still don't feel our family is complete. But I don't see a way out of it. It's really sad."

Stories like Klemm's are becoming more common. The fertility rate in the United States was already at a record low in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and pushed the rate even lower. The gap between the number of children people would like and the number they expect to have is at an all-time high - a sign, some researchers say, that having children in the United States is just too difficult. "We don't talk about what a financial burden having even a planned pregnancy can be," said Diana Limongi. The 39-year-old blogger had her two children before New York State passed a paid family leave policy, so she had to rely on savings and credit cards to recover from childbirth, she said, and continues to rely on family to help with child care. As Democrats in Congress continue to wrangle over what could be the first major federal investment in child care and a paid family and medical leave plan to make it easier for people to start and raise families, a new survey released last week by the Pew Research Center finds that a growing share of Americans say they're unlikely to have kids at all.

Forty-four percent of non-parents surveyed by Pew said…
The Washington Post
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