CHILD FREE: Birth rate drops, but is it a trend? - KMSP-TV

CHILD FREE: Birth rate drops, but is it a trend?

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The latest TIME magazine cover story has a lot of people talking about the title, "The Child-Free Life: When having it all means not having children." But is there really a trend, and if so, what is the impact?

The article discusses how childless adults are often depicted as self-involved and selfish, which the author points out is incorrect.

FOX 9 News spoke with Susan Brower, a Minnesota demographer, about what some are describing as a trend in childbirth.

Q: What do you make of this article? Is there anything to it?

A: I think what they talk about here is that 18 percent of women who are 40 to 44 are childless, and that's a number that's been creeping up slightly over the last decade or so.

Q: Economically speaking, it shouldn't really make much difference. We are not losing population -- we're still growing in population. Where are we with the birth rate in this country right now?

A: Right now it is at 2.0 -- we have an average of about two children. It's gone down. In terms of where we are in terms of other countries, we are right on par with other western European countries. There is some concern long-term in terms of workforce, but we're not there yet.

Q: Do articles like this get people thinking, 'maybe this is for me?' There are a lot of child-free blogs out there. Does this push the envelope?

A: It may, but I think maybe their own lives are pushing the envelope though. We are delaying child bearing, we're delaying marriage, and so I think people get into careers, they finish education before they even start thinking about children.

Q: What is driving the numbers? Do you see specific things that drive elements or generations to either have or not have children?

A: We have seen a dip in the birth rate recently that we attribute to the recession. We often see after recessions -- during recessions and afterwards -- that people put off having children. We typically expect there will be an increase after we begin to recover, and we still anticipate that will be the case. That's one thing that impacts this. Another is a general attitude about family -- when we think people should have babies, how many they should have. They're really just social norms.

Q: Is the stigma about not having children lessening?

A: I thinks survey research shows that it is to some extent, that there is some loosening of the norms around childlessness -- but I think there is a very strong feeling that all people should have children.

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