Why are Utah women delaying child birth? Research also reveals Mormon family trends

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Nanook of the North Los Angeles, CA
    Oct. 31, 2017 3:14 p.m.

    Yes, it was nice to have the "1950s-60s dream" family with dad having the sole income and still having enough money to buy a home. But thanks to the rich getting richer and wages for everyone else stagnating, you now have the "2010s nightmare" where it's hard to afford RENT even with two incomes. Maybe people need to look at things like how they vote and who they vote for, because the people behind this change were elected to office with glee by a lot of Utahns and a lot of Mormons.

  • Scott H Ogden, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 2:48 p.m.

    Given the diverse economic, physical, mental, and emotional issues in each family, decisions regarding family size and timing require a customized approach. Those who want lots of kids should have them, if they are capable. Those who want fewer kids should be free to go that direction too. There are broad consequences to socially impelling people to have more kids than they want.

    Some researchers suggest that part of the reason behind the declining birthrate goes beyond mere economics to the core of how our society views child rearing. We apparent have a tendency to think of a child like a chunk of marble out of which parents are supposed to carve a masterpiece. In reality, children are more like seeds that parents plant and work to nurture, without knowing for sure what kind of plant the seed will produce. We think a parent's job is to force a child to become something, when the job really entails enabling nurturing. Thus, much of what we spend on children is based in the wrong focus.

  • Designer123 Centerville, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 2:37 p.m.

    I can see how all these factors could contribute to the changes in age of the mother as well as the number of children. To add to it, I think the way the current generation who are in the phase of being able to have children look at the world a little differently, even than their parents. I for one have 3 children and I am content with that. I was raised in a 2-child home with the hopes of having a little bigger family when I was a parent. But the reality of being a parent and also being the one to bear the children changes my perspective vs when I was growing up. I think our society is more closed off than what it seemed to be in the past, which can be very isolating for a mother with very young children, and that is difficult. I think people are more practical and want to spend more time focusing on their relationships with their children and they realize having a lot of them means less time spent with each. Both my parents grew up in large families, and my mother in particular felt just like she was one of many and not necessarily bonded to either of her parents. I think being conscientious about the number of children is important & the number is up to each couple to decide.

  • bj1279 Lehi, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 1:07 p.m.

    I don't see the trend of having kids at an older age as a problem. It just makes sense to start your family when you can afford to instead of being the returned missionary that gets married at 22 and pops out a honeymoon baby at 23 because LDS culture says that's what they're supposed to do, even if you can't afford it. Common sense needs to be applied when it comes to decisions on marriage and children. You need to be financially and emotionally ready for both. Part of that includes having sufficient employment to provide for them, which is more than $10 an hour at a fast food joint. If you can't figure out how to do that based on the skills you currently have, you should probably wait.

  • Q8Dhimmi Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2017 12:29 p.m.

    Re:Impartial7
    Many BYU graduates are experts at exploiting "the system" to their advantage- look at all the MLM's and investor fraud scams many of them perpetrate on their unwary "brethren."

  • Dot Northern Utah, UT
    Oct. 17, 2017 9:04 a.m.

    The wages don't go as far today because everyone HAS to have so many more material things than we did in the 60's and early 70's. We thought people were rich who made $10,000 per year! We didn't need the latest and greatest in everything. We were frugal and thought our purchases out. We didn't get hardly anything we wanted. That is not true today! Cut back everyone, work hard, and be frugal. Life is still good when you do this.

  • JRL in AZ Tucson, AZ
    Oct. 16, 2017 10:50 a.m.

    @ Makimb2: it's not the ideal for everyone, but it sure makes for a full and happy life for us. My point is that these decisions are a matter of priorities. If your priority is a family, it is very possible. You mention 100k salary. I don't make anything close to that, but our family doesn't lack for anything important. If a person's priority is to have more things, then our life choices won't work. They will need to have higher income and fewer kids. My comment was mostly for young LDS couples who hear this message of fear - "you need money, lots of it, before you can start a family." And that message is true if you intend to have a lot of stuff, because that stuff costs money. But it is not true if you put the kids first and the things second.

  • Makimb2 Slc, UT
    Oct. 15, 2017 9:04 a.m.

    @Jrlinarizona with all due respect the way of life you described doesn't sound ideal. I agree that most people are waiting because they want to be financially ready. Now a days even with 100k salary you have to budget while living modestly. Also, kids are great up to age 2 then it's insane

  • Marie2319 Logan, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 4:37 p.m.

    Utah LDS Culture is a hotbed of judgment on this subject. It says right in the Church Handbook that members should not judge others regarding their marriage or parenting decisions. And yet, near-total-strangers still feel as though others' very personal choices are somehow their business. People seem so eager to judge, and slow to show compassion.

    Blaming the stats on selfishness is a poor argument. For one example, infertility and other health issues often limit family size, no matter how many children a couple might want. Note that "just adopt" isn't a realistic response either.

    Remember too, that the 1950s were an anomaly in many ways. The average age at marriage was higher in 1890 than in 1950, according to statistics from the census bureau. The average marriage age in England in the 1700s was pushing 24-26 for women and 28-30 for men. It's a myth that everyone married way young "back in the day." Perhaps our young people want to actually reach adulthood, be educated, and attain a basic level of stability before jumping into marriage and parenthood. I'd say that is a good thing!

  • JRL in AZ Tucson, AZ
    Oct. 13, 2017 11:19 a.m.

    Having kids is expensive. But a lot of this talk about how expensive things are is just false. I guess that half of average Americans' expenses are for things they don't need - things that their parents did just fine without 40 years ago. My wife and I do really well with 8 kids and 1 public sector job. We just try to live with the things our parents had. With a few extras, of course: Phones for kids? 1 of those. Internet? Yeah, we have that too. But cable/satellite TV? Not necessary. Vacations? Drive to see the cousins. Eating out? Maybe 4 times a year. Movies? Rent at Red Box for a dollar. We went to state colleges and worked part time to pay tuition. We bought used cars and work with friends and family to fix them when they break. This way we were able to have kids early and often, and we haven't starved or gone on welfare yet.

    My point isn't to say we are virtuous. My point is that life doesn't have to be as expensive as we make it. This is a matter of priorities. If your priority is having kids, it is doable. Don't let all the other non-essentials nickel and dime you out of a family. It is the greatest joy you will ever find.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 9:51 a.m.

    Such a financial burden. All that student debt.

    Not to mention those trips to Cancun, Paris, the cruise, two weeks with mom and dad at their place, the man cave equipment, two cars on lease... Gotta have the latest I Phone.

    All that financial burden makes babies impossible to afford.

    It's a sacrifice to have kids. Even a bigger one to stay home and raise them. If you're not willing, what do you think will happen to the demographics?

  • Cactus Pete Centerville, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 9:30 a.m.

    @LDS Liberal - Farmington, UT
    Democrats have never seen a tax they didn't like. That is why Detroit went backrupt after 50 years under liberal leadership.

    When taxes go up wives have to go to work to help pay them, and when wages go up the price of goods and services goes up so businesses can pay the higher wages.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 7:06 a.m.

    Good choice.

    When wages don't go up -- who can afford marriage and a family?

    Funny - Republicans keep touting the GDP and WallStreet gains,
    yet,
    those gains are not translating down the MAIN Street like they should.

    The top 1% keeps getting even richer,
    and Trump wants to give THEM the tax breaks....

  • TeachyMcTeacherPants Sandy, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 3:31 a.m.

    Have you looked at the cost of childcare lately? Housing? Student loans? Healthcare?

    Face it, the economy has recovered but only for the rich.

    Wages have been stagnant since the nineties, yet everything costs double. My dollars dont stretch as far as my parents did and I don't want to end up in the poor house when I retire.

  • Susan Storm Sandy, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 3:28 a.m.

    Getting married is a milestone but having a child is an life changing event. I am happy to hear more people are taking the responsibility of bringing life into the world seriously.

    People should have the number of children they can afford and appropriately care for. For some that is 10 and others that is 0.

  • Millenial Snow Sandy, UT
    Oct. 13, 2017 3:26 a.m.

    They hit the reasons on the head:

    Student debt
    Health care costs
    Housing costs skyrocketing
    Stagnant wages
    Fewer middle class jobs

    I would rather raise my two kids in a way where I can provide for them and set them up to succeed than 6 kids in a way where we are struggling. This is being responsible, not selfishness.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 8:58 p.m.

    That is what happens when everything is so expensive now days from kids to houses to education. Hard to do all that on one income.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 4:51 p.m.

    @Vermonter;
    "@Impartial7.
    Ok. I'm over-commenting. I appreciate your insight and perspective.
    Something else to consider. Unless one plans on taking no Social Security payments in retirement, the children being born now will be paying for at least part (if not most) of retired persons' basic needs.

    Thank you for your civil discourse. I think any conservative can see the hypocrisy in having welfare paying for your kids. Yes, the math says we need new people to pay Social Security. However, Social Security is something that we paid into (I've had SS & FICA taken out of my checks since I was 15.) and will later make withdrawals. Welfare is not.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Oct. 12, 2017 4:30 p.m.

    @Brer Rabbit.
    1. Population growth is hardly out of control. Fertility Rate is falling globally--even in the poorest parts of the world. Current projections show total world population peaking around 2065, then falling exponentially.

    2. Japan fears the consequences of depopulation. So, they have ramped up baby payments to incentivize a higher fertility rate. The US gets advance warning of the consequences of depopulation with Japan, and how best to mitigate the problems. (Who knows? Maybe depopulation is mostly good. I kind of doubt it.)

    3. If immigrants' fertility rate comes to mirror current American and Utahn fertility rate trend-line, then immigration is only a short-term solution for Social Security. If fertility rate stays on the downward trend, Social Security, as it is today, will not exist in 50 years.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 3:20 p.m.

    Several points:
    1. "I think that a lot of it is driven by economics," Kotkin said, pointing specifically to the cost of housing as a barrier to having more children." Most of the African countries have a Total Fertility Rate of between 5 and 6 children per female and live in a mud hut or one bedroom unit, yet live in world poverty. Population growth is out of control in many third world countries.

    2. Japan has a TFR of about 1.4 (2.1 is required to maintain population) They have almost zero immigration and their population declines at at about 400,000 per year, yet they have one of the highest standards of living and quality of life on the planet.

    3. Those that believe that immigration is necessary to back-fill the lower fertility rate to pay for Social Security ignore the fact that immigrants also age, and will add to the problem.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 3:14 p.m.

    These young people are simply responding to the new economic reality for them, which is the exporting of most labor intensive jobs to Latin America and the far east by capital. All that's left for American labor is very high tech jobs on one end and low pay service sector jobs on the other. They are in a tight spot. Having smaller families is a response to reality not "selfishness."

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 3:10 p.m.

    This is very good news. Give more focus and attention to the kids you have. Live a more simple life without over consuming our limited resources.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 2:57 p.m.

    re: UtahTroutStalker - Draper, UT

    As long as our housing prices remain lower than California our population will continue to go up.
    Sell a moderate house in CA for 750K; get a luxury house in Utah, maybe even one in Park city with a little extra mortgage.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 2:38 p.m.

    Good we have too many people in our state already. Few people equals cleaner air, and more open spaces for the rest of us.

    In the long run a population decline would lead to lower housing prices.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Oct. 12, 2017 1:39 p.m.

    @Impartial7.
    Ok. I'm over-commenting. I appreciate your insight and perspective.

    Something else to consider. Unless one plans on taking no Social Security payments in retirement, the children being born now will be paying for at least part (if not most) of retired persons' basic needs.

    Of course, if most of the children being born now end up being welfare recipients during most of their working years (which is the most disturbing trend-line of all), then, in the coming decades, the vast majority of retired older folks, simply unable to work themselves, will have trouble with their basic needs (food, clothing and shelter).

    Unless some of these trend-lines are altered in the next 10, 20 or 30 years, a depopulating developed world, including the US and Utah, will be much poorer in general economically, and even worse for the retired elderly among us (and you and I will be there sooner than we think).

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 1:35 p.m.

    @Impartial7 - DRAPER, UT

    To be fair once these students graduate they will pay a lot of taxes into the system. Most likely a lot more than they took out. College students who go onto graduate are a good investment.
    Also they will pay a significant amount of money into social security which is a program they most likely will never benefit from.
    As far as medical cost; they are a mess, who can afford it anymore? particularly young college students who are trying to get started. Do they drop out of college and get a job just to buy insurance?
    I have never had a problem giving people food. WIC vouchers can be used for only food.
    I think we have to admit it is a lot harder for them to make it then those who were young in the past.
    it is hypocritical to look down on others who need help when you are getting it yourself. Or look down on them later when you are doing better and forget all the benefits you received in getting started.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 1:11 p.m.

    Young families have a harder time making it then in the past. With prices going up and wages staying stagnant something has to give. Look at the debt colleges students are graduating with. In the past a young couple could survive on one person working a fast food job. Now they both have to work one or two jobs each while trying to go to school. When things are this scarce couples hold off on having kids until they can afford them.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 1:08 p.m.

    If they peg SS to how may kids you have I hope we get a rebate, with interest, for all of the property tax, we've paid over the years!

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 12:40 p.m.

    @Vermonter;
    "At the heart of the decision to delay children and have fewer is individualism (which is really a polite way of saying selfishness)."

    Selfish? I have no problem with people having as many kids than they can afford and take care of, both financially and emotionally. What I detest is paying for others kids that they can't afford. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that “44 percent of births to parents who listed ‘student’ as their occupation” in Utah in 2008 were funded by Medicaid. About 39 percent of those births occurred in Utah County. Utah County is a perfect example. Many BYU students are welfare recipients. LDS student families also take advantage of low-income housing, WIC vouchers and other assistance.
    These same people and their families see welfare as a way to support their choices to have kids in college. I'm betting a lot of these same people have strong opinions about welfare for minorities and immigrants.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Oct. 12, 2017 12:28 p.m.

    Without a significant change in the trendline of the fertility rate or significantly higher immigration, in the decades ahead, Social Security payments will need to be tied in some manner to the number of children a person has raised over their lifetime (and probably more precisely, those children's actual earnings). This is really the only way Social Security can survive when depopulation kicks in. But, of course, such a change will be a political powderkeg. In 2017, such an idea is so non-PC that no one dares talk about it. (Come to think of it, what am I doing?)

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Oct. 12, 2017 12:14 p.m.

    At the heart of the decision to delay children and have fewer is individualism (which is really a polite way of saying selfishness).

    I don't see the trend of smaller family size and decreasing fertility rate reversing anytime soon in Utah. Yet, if Utahns want to keep their economy growing, they will need more people, either through higher birth rates or more immigration. If economic growth is a significant concern for the LDS Church as well, it may be time for the Church to start encouraging members outside of Utah and the United States to physically gather with to Utah again.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Oct. 12, 2017 12:02 p.m.

    ""As long as we’re the heart of the Mormon culture region, we will continue to have the highest fertility rate,"

    Yes, that's true. But, popping out kids, that you can't afford, before you finish your education and have a job, is irresponsible. No matter what church leaders promote.