baby.jpgI was reading this sad story in the Wall Street Journal today about a couple who had four kids and they faced home foreclosure because the husband’s hours at work were sharply reduced. As a result, they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments.

While I feel for the family, it got me wondering about whether people should postpone having too many kids until they have secure jobs.

Now I know, no job is secure, but is it a bad family and career move to keep procreating during tough economic times?

Typically, the birth rate does fall off during recessions.

This from an MSNBC story earlier this year:

There was a dramatic decline in fertility rates following the Great Depression in the 1930s, when, for the first time in U.S. history, women went from having an average of three children the previous decade to two.

In each year after the country’s last four recessions, general fertility rates — calculated as the number of women of child-bearing age per thousand who gave birth — dipped slightly. For example, in the year following the 1973-1975 recession, fertility rates dropped from 68.8 in 1973 to 65 in 1976, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarly, following the 1980-1982 recession, the fertility rate fell from 68.4 in 1980 to 65.7 in 1983.

When this article was written no data was available on our present downturn, but I found some more up-to-date data from the CDC. Turns out the birth rate actually rose 1 percent in 2007 and then dropped 2 percent in 2008.

It seems to follow historic apprehensions on the part of women to have children during tough times. But many still choose to. Some economists surmise that women may be thinking a recession is the perfect time to have a baby, especially if they lose their jobs and have time to focus on a little bundle of joy.

Unfortunately, women who opt out of the workforce, or don’t try hard to get back in can end up paying for it in terms of their own long-term financial health. And it’s way harder to get back to work after being out of the workplace for a while.

And what if your spouse loses their job? Boy, you put yourself and your family in a pretty tough position.

The Wall Street Journal article I reference above doesn’t even talk about whether the wife is working or not. With four kids and a drastic drop in her husband’s wages, there’s a good chance they can’t afford daycare.

The financial burden of having kids can be great.

From the MSNBC story:

According to “Expenditures on Children by Families,” an annual report put out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-class family making more than $77,100 will spend nearly $300,000 raising a child from birth to age 17 — and that doesn’t even take into account college tuition or inflation.

There is a school of thought that says if you wait for the perfect time to have a baby you will never have a baby. And I get that.

When my husband and I decided to have my daughter we were both working good-paying, secure jobs. But when she was born I decided to go out on my own and start my freelance business. I wasn’t happy with my employment situation, and given my husband’s job, we figured it was a good option.

We struggled those first few years, living paycheck to paycheck, but in the end it was worth it.

Back then, the economy was flourishing and I had no fear we wouldn’t be able to make it financially. There were no guarantees that things would work out, but we were hopeful, and maybe a bit dumb.

Who’s to say when people should make this huge step. Maybe economic strife teaches our children more about life’s struggles.

What’s your take? Are you pondering having kids now? What’s your job situation? Did you have your children when you had job security, or whey you were struggling financially?

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