Of course, to make matters worse, there are economic issues that contribute to the decisions of both genders, primarily millennial student debt and the perception that they don’t make enough money to support a child. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,000 of student loan debt. The average millennial makes $35k a year and the cost of raising a child is $233,000 over 17 years, or about $13,000 a year. If you can do math, you can see why millennials aren’t in a rush to have kids no matter how much they want them. Birth rates among women aged 19-49 are only 6.2% and 1.8 births per woman, historic lows. The amount of births going to single mothers is a 45 degree line upward.
So, marriage rates need to increase, as do birth rates, but in order to do that, the issues stopping women and men from tying the knot need to be addressed, and then the economic issues holding them back from having kids. That means:
– Structural issues with the marriage contract need to be addressed. The contract needs to be made more fair to men by guaranteeing equitable custody rights and eliminating or altering the distribution of court mandated alimony payments. This is not only for the man, but children deserve to have a relationship with their fathers.
– The divorce rate needs to be addressed. Personally I think there should be options for different lengths of marriage contracts, such as a 7 year contract which is easily renewed, but if one party decided to leave after 7 years, the marriage annuls simply based on guidelines outlined when the contract was signed. Why 7 years? It’s the point at which divorce is most common. If couples make it past 7 years, they tend to stick together for 15 or more years; so why not say, at 7 years, you can walk away, no harm, no foul, or you can renew your vows for another 7 years?
– The issues preventing women from entering into marriage need to be addressed. According to the institute for family studies, these reasons are: too much debt, lack of marriageable men, fear of failure, and unpopularity of marriage. I’ll address debt in the next point, so let’s move on. For lack of marriageable men, the suggested prescription from the institute for family studies is “women may need to be more open to finding suitable matches with men who have careers or educational backgrounds that vastly differ from their own—but who are a compatible match in other areas, such as faith, values, and worldview.”; for fear of failure, well, that’s really a state of mind, but maybe a lesser commitment like the one suggested above is easier to fulfill — a 7 year commitment is easier to complete than a ‘for life’ commitment, and the unpopularity of marriage well… that’s really what the point of writing all this is driving at.
– The economic issue needs to be addressed as well, so let me address it as best I can, millennial to millennial — you may not feel ready, you have debt and you can’t afford a house, but that’s the time we live in. If you’re wealthy to the point of being out of touch, these problems haven’t affected you. Kudos. To the rest of us: this may an instance where you you leap first and not overthink, there is no perfect time and when you’re stable and wealthy, you won’t be in your prime child rearing years anymore, men or women. No bailout is coming and no guarantee you’ll become a famous millionaire is provided. If you want to have a kid, aim toward it while you still have time and enjoy the struggle. These are the problems of our time. At least in our time you have microwaves and air conditioning instead of the plague or a polio outbreak.
Right now, the path we’re on is the opening to Idiocracy. Surely we can do a little better than that, right?