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Has having children become a privilege in today’s world?

The U.S. birth rate has been falling since 2008, dipping even further during the pandemic, as Business Insider reports. Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from 2019 to 2020, the U.S. birth rate fell by 4% from 2019 to 2020, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979. While the baby bust may not have been quite as vast as predicted, it does mean that the country has about 60,000 fewer babies because of the pandemic.

The reasons are myriad: Women have better access to contraception than they used to as well as the opportunity to prioritize education and career. Some don’t want to bring a child into a world facing numerous climate crises. Others aren’t interested in having kids. And yet, the fact is that children are very expensive in an economy that’s only getting more costly, from child care to the price of college. 

The economics of raising a family in today’s society has made having kids a privilege, Karen Guzzo, professor of sociology and director for family and demographic research at Bowling Green State University, told Insider. “It’s almost like the haves and have-nots in terms of who gets to have children, because it’s so expensive,” she said.