🔑 Key Findings:
- Only 19% of young millennials definitely want to be parents
- Another 20% are leaning towards staying child-free
- Parents typically spend an average of $711 per month on childcare
SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom — Less than a fifth of millennials, specifically those between 26 and 35, are certain that they want to become parents one day. This inclination further diminishes among individuals with pronounced environmental concerns. Simply put, four in five young millennials want to remain childless, especially if they dwell on climate change concerns.
The study, conducted by the University of Southampton and the Generations and Gender Program, gathered insights on attitudes toward children, family, and various political issues. It involved a sample of 7,000 individuals ranging from 18 to 59 years-old in the U.K.
The findings revealed a correlation with the nation’s declining birth rates, highlighting a drop in the number of young adults planning to have children. Only 19 percent of younger millennials expressed a definitive desire to have children, while 30 percent leaned towards probably wanting children. Among older millennials, between 36 and 41, 36 percent were certain they will not have children, and 20 percent were leaning towards not having them.
The percentage of millennials who are disinclined to have children increases among those with stronger environmental concerns. However, the trend appears different for Generation Z — ages 18 to 24. Data shows that those in this age group who are more likely to desire children are also more concerned about environmental and climate issues.
“Whilst we found that environmental concerns are a factor for older millennials intending to remain childless, our study suggests this isn’t the case for Gen Z,” says Professor Brienna Perelli-Harris, from the University of Southampton who led the UK Generations and Gender Survey, in a media release.
“This may be because some younger people do not intend to have children for other reasons, or it could be that Gen Zers who would like to have children are more worried about the planet that their children will inherit.”
The study also highlights a declining trend in the desire for children among Generation Z, compared to previous generations. Specifically, 15 percent of Generation Z respondents stated a definite lack of interest in having children. This contrasts with the 10 to 15 percent of individuals of the same age group who expressed similar sentiments between 2005 and 2007.
Additionally, 11 percent of Generation Z participants indicated they probably will not have children, and 22 percent were uncertain about it. According to the study, these findings suggest that birth rates in the U.K. may continue to decrease.
“More young adults planning to remain childless suggests the recent decline in fertility rates at young ages isn’t just about individuals delaying parenthood until they are older,” Prof. Perelli-Harris says, according to SWNS.
“Instead, it suggests a growing trend of individuals intending not to have children. If this is the case, then we can expect UK birth rates to decline further from their current level.”
The study also delves into a significant challenge for those who choose to have children: the high cost of childcare.
Researchers found that parents typically spend an average of $711 per month on childcare. A quarter of these parents pay over $1,016, and 15 percent spend more than $1,270.
For lower-income households, childcare expenses account for a substantial 20 to 30 percent of their income. This is a larger proportion compared to higher-income households, which allocate around 10 percent of their salary to childcare.
The survey also uncovered varied childcare approaches among parents. About a fifth exclusively utilize formal childcare options, such as nurseries. In contrast, a quarter depend solely on assistance from parents, relatives, or friends.
Notably, a third of parents do not use any formal childcare, a trend most prevalent among the lowest income groups. Families with higher incomes are more inclined to use formal childcare exclusively. Meanwhile, middle-income families tend to rely on a mix of both formal and informal childcare solutions.
“Our findings suggest a lack of affordability may be stopping low-income families from using childcare services, and at the same time preventing parents from working more hours,” says survey co-leader Dr. Bernice Kuang.
“So-called ‘early years care deserts’ in disadvantaged areas may also restrict access to high-quality childcare. This is particularly concerning given that disadvantaged children and children with special educational needs benefit from exposure to the early years curriculum, resources, and the socialization available in formal childcare settings.”
South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report.