Americans are making fewer babies than we’ve made since we started keeping track in the 1930s. And some women, like Diamond, are not just putting off pregnancy but eliminating the possibility of it altogether.
Last year, the number of deaths exceeded that of births in 25 states — up from five the year before. The marriage rate is also at an all-time low, at 6.5 marriages per 1,000 people. Millennials are the first generation where a majority are unmarried (about 56%). They are also more likely to live with their own parents, according to Pew, than previous generations were in their twenties and thirties.
They also aren’t having sex. The number of young men (ages 18 to 30) who admit they have had no sex in the past year tripled between 2008 and 2018. Cities like New York, where young, secular Americans flock to to build their lives, are increasingly childless. In San Francisco, there are more dogs than children.
A dog sits in a stroller. (Getty Images)
It used to be that people wanted to make babies. Women, especially, but also men. That was a healthy young person’s default position, and our existence depended on it. We wanted to do other things, of course, and the great post-feminist challenge was how to have it all — the proper work-life balance, the career and the baby, the supportive husband and the adventurous life.
But now, for an increasing number, the question isn’t how to have it all. It’s: why do it at all?
This psychological reversal didn’t just happen. It took place inside the hurricane of spiritual, cultural and environmental forces swirling around us. But the message from this young cohort is clear: Life is already exhausting enough. And the world is broken and burning. Who would want to bring new, innocent life into a criminally unequal society situated on a planet with catastrophically rising sea levels?
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