A recent report, based on the latest census figures, shows that more American women are choosing not to have children. Twice as many older women are childless today compared to those in the 1970's, and those numbers are expected to rise significantly over the coming decades. What has caused this shift? Apparently education and economics are the primary movers, or it just means more of us have given in to the impulse to murder our husbands and drown our children.
The more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to be childless. Education provides more options for women, and children are seen as less important for a sucessful marriage. Economics and the increasing costs of raising children certainly factor in to the decision to procreate as well as the number of times that we have unprotected sex after a drunken party. In years past, childcare was often provided by members of the extended family. But that situation is much rarer today, despite the high number of Baby Boomers. Today's grandparents aren't as stupid as their ancestors. As soon as the kids get married, we sell the family home and move to a tax haven state like Florida or Delaware, whichever is further away.
This sea-change might be good if it actually resulted in a drop in population and, therefore, less strain on the nation's resources. Yet the country's population continues to grow, thanks to immigration (both legal and illegal), and overall birth rates.
To me, the frightening part of all this is WHO is choosing to remove themselves from the future generational pool: the more educated, more affluent women. Does it mean that every woman with an advanced degree and money would be a great parent? And, conversely, are poor, uneducated women bad parents? Of course not. But as academic test scores continue to decline, parents spend more time at their jobs out of economic necessity, and kids spend the dwindling family time attached to ipods and ipads, I'm afraid of the fallout.
Interestingly, if I were 20-25 years old again, I would choose to be single, pursing a professional career, and not sure if I really wanted kids. So, yes, I'm worried about me when I return for my second life. Maybe I'll even laugh when I read this then-prehistoric blog posting.