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New Data From Future Family Shows Student Debt Crisis Holds Back American Fertility Rates
As US birth rates plummet, our survey reveals that half of the women with student debt surveyed say it impacts their decision to have children.
Future Family  |  May 22, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Future Family, the company making fertility care accessible to all men, women, and couples, today released a report dedicated entirely to understanding women’s experiences with fertility and their needs in family planning and fertility management. The report uncovers a concerning trend around the effect of the student debt crisis on already declining US fertility rates which, according to the CDC, have decreased by 3.8 percent since 2015 and 16.4 percent since the most recent peak in 2007.


Student debt in America has tripled since 2006 and now stands at almost $1.5 trillion. It is an issue that disproportionately affects women, who hold two-thirds of outstanding student loan debt. While it’s no surprise that this crisis is increasingly deterring people from pursuing previous markers of adulthood, such as buying homes, and even threatening upward mobility, survey data from Future Family indicates student debt is also impacting women’s desire to have children. Of the 44 percent of women surveyed who reported holding student debt, exactly half said it influences their decision to have children.

This report draws from a survey distributed between March 27, 2018 - March 29, 2018, to nearly 1,000 women aged 25 - 40 without children in the United States. In addition to linking student debt to declining fertility rates in America, the report reveals compelling insights between delaying motherhood and waiting to find the right partner, financial insecurity, and more.


Women are delaying motherhood because they have not found the right partner

Though the prevailing cultural narrative often pegs career ambitions as what drive women to delay parenthood, only 13% of respondents selected their professional development as the primary reason for waiting.


Of the women surveyed, the majority (36 percent) said the primary reason they are waiting to start having children until age 30 or older is that they have not found the right partner. In fact, 46 percent of women indicated they would not consider having children by themselves.


Also, though the prevailing cultural narrative often pegs career ambitions as what drive women to delay parenthood, only 13 percent of respondents selected their professional development as the primary reason for waiting. Career also trailed behind finances at 22 percent, and the 15 percent of respondents who noted they feel or felt too young to have children in their twenties.


Further supporting the notion that the expectation of finding a suitable partner drives women to delay having children, 63 percent of women surveyed feel it is very or extremely important to marry before having children. The report also uncovers a notable barrier to finding the right partner: 33 percent of respondents said they would not consider having children with someone of the opposite political party.


Many women in the US fear they cannot afford to have children

44% of respondents who said they do not plan to have children in the future said it’s because having and raising children is too expensive.


Since 1979, the hourly median wage has increased less than 10 percent while the average price of goods (the CPI) has skyrocketed by 237 percent. For many, the outpacing of wages by the price of goods can be felt in their purchasing behavior -- for example, credit card debt in the US has climbed to more than $1 trillion. Future Family’s data illustrates the effect of higher cost of living on having children; 48 percent of women feel they are less financially secure than their parents were at their age.


Additionally, 44 percent of respondents who said they do not plan to have children in the future said it’s because having and raising children is too expensive. More than half (55 percent) of women surveyed reported they were afraid they would never be able to afford to have children, further validating the notion that lack of financial stability or means is a significant barrier for a majority of women when it comes to starting a family.


In spite of this barrier, 58 percent of women claimed they plan to purchase a home--a massive financial investment--before having children. What’s more, 69 percent of respondents said homeownership is somewhat, very, or extremely important to their decision to have children.


For the average first-time American home buyer, 32 years old, married, childless, with above average income, waiting to start a family until after purchasing a home means trying to get pregnant after age 32, an age at which a woman’s fertility generally starts to decrease. However, for many women, home ownership is proving impossible, especially for those with high levels of student loan debt or without help from their parents. For women who want to purchase a home before starting a family but do not have the resources to do so at a young age, they may be setting themselves up for a tough and expensive fertility journey ahead -- yet another consequence of rising student loan debt in America.


This report arrives on the heels of Future Family’s launch of TouchPoint, the company’s first national partnership program. Debuting in several of the most highly-rated clinics in the country, TouchPoint enables partners to easily provide Future Family’s holistic, supported care and flexible financing to patients seeking fertility treatments.


Methodology

Future Family surveyed 938 women via the online platform SurveyMonkey to better understand women’s experiences with fertility and their needs in family planning and fertility management. Women surveyed did not have children at the time of survey distribution, were based in the United States, and were between the ages of 25-40. This survey was administered from March 27, 2018, through March 29, 2018.


About Future Family:

Future Family is where women, men, and couples start their fertility journey. The company’s mission is to make fertility care accessible and affordable to all. Future Family combines advances in fintech, fertility, and concierge care to empower women and couples throughout their fertility journey. Future Family was founded by former SolarCity exec Claire Tomkins, who was inspired by her own fertility struggles to improve the experience for other women and Eve Blossom, a serial entrepreneur in social impact and technology companies.

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