‘It is devastating’: the millennials who would love to have kids – but can’t afford a family

“People need to stop telling me to ‘just get on with it’ if I want to have children,” Jen Cleary says, clearly exasperated. “Most of my generation simply cannot afford to. Being childless is out of my hands and it is a devastating and frustrating reality.” Cleary, a 35-year-old former teacher, is recounting how financial precariousness means that her dream of having a family may never come true. It is an experience that many millennials – defined roughly as those born between 1981 and 1996 – have encountered.

The UK’s birthrate is at a record low, with fertility rates for women under 30 at their lowest levels since records began in 1938. There are many factors that contribute to this, including the fact that many people struggle with infertility; some make a positive personal choice not to have children; and others decide against having kids because of the uncertainties and peril of the climate crisis. But finances and the rising costs of living are a persistent and growing issue. Just last month, the Labour party chair, Anneliese Dodds, pointed out that many people are being forced to put off settling down and having families thanks to “cost pressures” overseen by the current Tory government.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 13/10/21]