NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- America’s idea of the “perfect family” includes having two or more kids, according to Demographic Intelligence (DI), a provider of birth forecasts and U.S. fertility analytics.
But the sluggish economy seems to be keeping Americans from fulfilling that family dream. According to a recent DI report, American families want more children, but their finances won’t allow it.
In fact, the report says that about 1.08 American million babies have been postponed or foregone over the past three years, a trend that is especially strong among families who already have at least one child.
The DI report does say that the U.S. continues to have bigger families than the rest of the developed world. But if the economy doesn’t cooperate, then the era of the big American family will continue to slide downward.
The DI says it has pinned down the exact “ideal family size” – 2.66 children, up from 2.39 in the late 1990s. Still, the economy is a huge influencer of family-planning trends, says the DI, with 25% of the shift in American fertility rates (on average) linked to the direction of the economy – good or bad.
“Childbearing is partly an economic decision and clearly many couples feel like they cannot afford an additional child,” Sam Sturgeon, director of research at DI, said in a statement. “[But] even though couples and women are having fewer children today because of the fallout associated with the recession, most Americans of childbearing age think that having two or more children is ideal.”
The study also says that married parents spend at least 23% more per capita than single people with no kids, and with cash at a premium, having another mouth to feed is an increasing problem.
Even though the DI found that U.S. birthrates fell from 4.324 million births in 2007 to 4.007 million births in 2010 – a more than 7% decline – analysts at the company do say that the nation’s birthrate should have begun ticking upward in 2011, although it’s too early to say for sure.
“We think that births will rise in 2011 and again in 2012, if the recovery strengthens,” says Bradford Wilcox, Ph.D., president of DI. “Our team of demographers are closely tracking economic trends for our July update of the fertility forecast.”