Delaying families impacts economic recovery

Published: Monday, Aug. 27 2012 9:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: A recent article on The Atlantic by Derek Thompson points out that by pushing the pause button on major milestones — in particular, having children— today's young adults could have a negative impact on the economy. At the Deseret News, we've reported in depth on this trend of young adults delaying the move to self-sufficiency and the declining birth rate in the United States. We've also found that children can influence society in many important ways. In addition to having a positive economic impact, children can aid stress management and influence overall happiness.

One way to think about the Great Recession is like a great pause button.

In normal times, millions of people get married in their mid-to-late 20s. They spend lots of money on a wedding. They buy a car, often with a loan. They buy a house, always with a loan. They buy new furniture and appliances. With their time and money coupled, expenses that were once extraneous now feel reasonable. Maybe he was individually satisfied with sports bars and she with Netflix, but as a couple, it makes more sense to watch live sports and TV shows on their new couch, and so they buy cable. They have a kid, or more than a few. You know how the story goes.


Before the Great Recession, young people were already saving many of these activities for later in their lives. The share of young adults (18-29) who were married fell from 59% to 20% between 1960 and 2010. These couples bought houses later, too. "A decline in the incidence of marriage mechanically lowers home ownership," Martin Gervais and Jonas D.M. Fisher wrote in their paper "Why Has Home Ownership Fallen Among the Young?"

Read more about the influence of children on economic recovery on The Atlantic.

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