Birthrates decline as more people choose not to have children

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- There’s a new trend in parenting: deciding not to do it at all.

The birthrates in Missouri and Illinois have been steadily declining and more people than ever are choosing not to have children.

Angie Corrales of Hazelwood said she always wanted to be a mom. She has a 2-year-old and an infant. But being a mother has its challenges, like cost (her daycare cost is more than her rent), work and worry.

“Especially with crime the way it is, the cost of everything going on, it’s very uncertain,” she said.

Experts said these are some of the reasons why many more people are choosing to stay childless.

“I just don’t want to be a parent,” said Alyssa, a librarian and archivist at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She used to be a schoolteacher.

“I still love kids,” she said.

But having given it a lot of thought, “it just doesn’t make sense for me,” Alyssa said.

“Financially I am doing something I love but I just started a second job. I cannot build up my savings, I have tens of thousands in student loan debt, medical bills,” she said.

Plus, she’s perfectly happy being a dog mom to Millie.

“She’s my baby,” Alyssa said.

Though there is still pressure to procreate, she said, especially for women.

“A lot of people like to say, ‘oh you will change your mind, just wait,’” Alyssa said.

It’s just not in her life’s story.

“Women should choose whatever path they want in life, including being childless,” said Alyssa.

“People still aren’t having children at the rate they are before the pandemic,” said Jordan Davidson. She’s the author of ‘So When Are You Having Kids?’

“People are thinking differently about having kids now than they were in the past decades ago,” Davidson said.

She said birthrates have declined around the country. News 4 found the same for Missouri and Illinois, both have trended downward in recent years, with noticeable declines in the last several years.

“That spans everything from the COVID pandemic to financial challenges, there’s concerns, the mortality rate for black women,” said Davidson.

People in the queer community, too, she said, face steeper hurdles to having children, so they may choose not to.

“I do think there is a sense of negativity around the future,” she said.

Many people she talked to just seemed hesitant in general

“They are so afraid of the toll it’s going to take on their existing life, so they can make sure they are ready for it, so they can be a great parent to their child,” said Davidson.

So, could it be a wake-up call for the future?

“If we want to see the birthrate increase, we have to make parenthood more enticing for young people, or feasible, really doable,” Davidson said.

“It’s an indescribable feeling really, I feel lucky,” said Angie.

Angie told News 4 she gets why others wouldn’t want to.

“I don’t blame them because it’s very hard to be a parent,” she said.

But she said, for her, she’d not have it any other way.

“Wouldn’t want to change it at all,” Angie said.

Some local people who are choosing not to have kids said they are finding like-minded friends and communities and said it’s becoming less stigmatized, though it still is too.

Want to weigh in on this? Head over to Reporter Lauren Trager’s Facebook or Instagram pages to leave a comment.