Dec 21, 2021 - News

Iowa's no-kid crowd is growing

Illustration of a chart trending downward, with a baby stroller icon rolling down it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A growing share of childless adults in the U.S. are saying they don't plan to ever have kids, a recent Pew survey found.

Why it matters: It could lead to major social and economic changes, such as more American adults reaching old age with little to no family to support them, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.

By the numbers: About 44% of childless American adults under 50 said it’s not too likely — or not at all likely — that they will have kids, according to Pew's survey conducted in October.

  • That's an increase of 7 percentage points from 2018.

State of play: U.S. fertility was already at a record low before 2020 and it has continued to drop during the pandemic.

Zoom in: Iowa births were down in 2020 for the sixth consecutive year, to 36,058 — marking the lowest number of births in the state since at least 1915, according to data released last month by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Yes, but: Don't worry about our extinction just yet.

  • Iowa economist Peter Orazem told Axios that the timing of the survey and pandemic-driven factors, such as difficulty obtaining health and child care, may have influenced the results.
  • Babymaking will likely pick up, but don't expect a boom like what occurred after the Great Depression, he predicted.

The bottom line: Iowa births have generally trended downward for decades — and it's unlikely we'll see a major turnaround soon, Orazem said.


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