New Survey Finds Having Kids Is Officially Too Expensive

Could high child care costs spell trouble for the future?

Child care costs are now around $10,000 per year, with annual day care costs running $9,000 to $9,600 on average, according to a report by ChildCare Aware of America.

The dollar amounts stand out when you compare them with the national median income for married couples with children under age 18. Based on the median income, more than 10.6 percent of household income goes toward covering the costs of child care for a single child. Even more concerning, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that child care should not cost more than 7 percent of your household income.

US Fertility Rates in Relation to Child Care Costs

As child care costs have soared in recent decades, the fertility rate in the U.S. has also been going down.

From 2007 through 2017, total fertility rates in the U.S. dropped precipitously for rural and metropolitan counties, according to a CDC report:

  • 12 percent drop in rural counties
  • 16 percent drop in small or medium metro counties
  • 18 percent drop in large metro counties

Since the peak in 2007, the total fertility rate has been declining while the average age of mothers of firstborns has been increasing.

Parents, Check Out: 34 States Where Private School Costs Less Than Public School

What Fertility and Birth Rates Say About US Economic Health

Fertility and birth rates are closely watched indicators of a country’s economic health. When fertility and birth rates are too high, an exploding youth population might have a difficult time finding work, leading to unrest. When fertility and birth rates are too low, economies can quickly contract, leaving a comparatively small working-age population to support a large retired population.

High levels of immigration have helped the U.S. cushion against the impact of such changes in fertility and birth rates. However, if the decline in fertility continues and immigration levels also fall, the U.S. could face an extreme population imbalance in the future.

What cannot help the situation is the cost of living in the U.S. All across the country, life’s essential costs, such as housing, healthcare, utilities, transportation and also discretionary costs, are going up. Every year, it’s becoming harder and harder to afford living comfortably in most American cities.

Read more about what it’s really like to be in America’s middle class.

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