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Young People Don’t Want to Have Kids—Right Now

We ask Gen Z and Millennials if they want kids or not, and lots of factors impact their answer… 

TL;DR

  • More than one third of young adults do not want to have kids
  • Concerns about the world, including everything from climate change to the economy, are making them question if they should have children
  • For young adults who do want kids, they’re consistently pushing back the age at which they want to start

It’s well known that Millennials have put off having families, and many judge them for it. Trends like egg freezing have even taken off as Millennials keep their parenthood options open for later in life. But while many are just planning to start parenthood at older ages than previous gens, some Millennials have decided that having children is just not for them at all. Gen Z is likely following a similar path; our data shows that among those old enough to be thinking about their future parenthood (18-21-year-olds) a good number say they have no interest in ever having children. For Millennials, now 22-39-years-old, most have a strong idea of what they want in their future, and for more than you’d think, that doesn’t include children.

Our Life Milestones and Future Plans report shows only 5% of 18-39-year-olds say starting a family is the biggest personal goal they’re working towards now. And 66% of young people agree “The pandemic has caused me to reassess my life goals”—for some of them, that meant not just when to have kids, but if. YPulse’s Millennial Parenting report asks non-parents about whether they want children, and here’s how many 18-39-year-olds say they do, and how many don’t: 

Pie chart showing how many 18-39-year-old non-parents want to have children

More than one third of young adults don’t want children 

YPulse’s found that 37% of 18-39-year-olds say they do not want to have children. And though many say these gens will change their mind when they get older, our data actually shows they grow more confident in the decision as they age up: 40% of 25-39-year-olds say say they don’t want children, compared to 33% of 18-24-year-olds. Millennial females are the most likely to say they don’t want children at 42%, making them +4pts more likely than Millennial males to feel parenthood is not in their plans.  

There’s a range of reasons why young people are delaying having a family or deciding not to have one at all, including the current state of the world. The majority of young people, including current parents, agree with the statement “I don’t want to bring a child into this world right now.” For non-parents, 71% agree; many would like to have kids, but now is not the right time for them. And 52% of parents agree, up from 44% who agreed with this statement last year, showing how the stress these gens feel about their world and the future are having a serious impact on their decision to have (more) kids. Some go so far as to ask the question: is it ethical to have children in the face of issues like climate change? 

Finances are a big part of it as well, as even 57% of Millennial parents agree “I wish I could have more kids, but we can’t afford it.” For those who are not parents, there’s debt to consider: YPulse data shows 60% of young people overall are holding some kind of debt, and 69% of 18-39-year-olds do, making it hard to fathom how they could pay for more than themselves—especially with the looming worry over recession and inflation.  

Young people who do want kids are holding off  

For the 63% of 18-39-year-olds who do want to have children, 33-years-old is the average age they say they want to start a family. Breaking down our data even further, this is when young people currently want to start having children—and there’s a clear pattern to be seen: 

Bart graph showing at what age 18-39-year-old non-parents want to start having children

Current Millennial parents say they had their first child at an average of 23-years-old, but their non-parent peers are not looking to start anywhere near that early. In fact, when we break young people down into smaller age groups, each says the age they want to start having children is years off—all except for 35-39-year-olds, who want to start at an average of 39-years-old. The gap does get smaller between their age and their ideal child-rearing age as they get older but indicates nonetheless that most are not in a rush to have kids. These gens are also not so concerned about traditional expectations of what their relationship should look like in order to have kids (i.e. being married first), and 48% disagree that “There is a correct order for achieving life milestones.” They are happy to do things at their own pace, in their own order.