9 in 10 Millennials and Gen Zers Say Cost of Child Care May Affect Decision to Have Children – Next100
Commentary   Education & Early Years

9 in 10 Millennials and Gen Zers Say Cost of Child Care May Affect Decision to Have Children

New survey data, the first to examine Millennial and Gen Z attitudes about child care, finds that significant majorities across gender, race, and political affiliation consider unaffordable child care as a barrier to professional success

Overwhelming majorities of Millennials and Gen Z say that access to affordable child care is important, with nearly nine in 10 saying the exorbitant cost of child care is a key factor affecting their decision to have children, according to new groundbreaking  survey data released today by Next100 and GenForward. According to the data, Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to say child care costs affect decisions to start a family than student loan debt.

As millions of families struggle to balance work and care during the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed child care centers, schools, and offices, the survey results indicate that a broad coalition of Millennials and Gen Zers–crossing racial/ethnic, gender, and party lines–want the United States to dramatically expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare. Along with 83 percent of young Democrats, nearly eight in 10 young Republicans (79 percent) and three in four young Independents (76 percent) believe affordable child care is important.

“Young people can do the math,” says Levi Bohanan, policy entrepreneur at Next100. “Millennials and Gen Z have faced the compounding economic effects of multiple major recessions, staggering student loan debt, and soaring housing costs. The next generation wants and needs to see solutions to our country’s child care crisis if they ever hope to afford to start a family. Policymakers must listen to them.”

“Both Millennials, who are the majority of those starting families, and Gen Zers, who are beginning to enter the workforce en masse, see lack of access to affordable child care as having a negative impact on their lives now and in the future,” says Dr. Cathy J. Cohen, GenForward Founder. “Across income, race, ethnicity, gender, or political affiliation categories, we saw remarkably widespread support for improving access to affordable, high-quality child care among Millennials and Gen Zers.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The cost of child care is affecting the next generation’s decision to have children. Over half of those currently without children say that the cost of child care is a very important factor in whether they choose to have children. Even among those with comparatively higher incomes (those earning at least $75,000), 87 percent of respondents said cost was important, with more than half saying it was very important.
  • Lack of affordable child care is influencing the next generation’s career and professional decisions. 
    • Gender: While 75 percent of Millennial and GenZ women say that the lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier to their professional success, a nearly as large share of Millennial and Gen Z men agreed, with more than two in three young men (68 percent) saying that lack of affordable child care is a professional barrier.
    • Race/ethnicity: Latinx (76 percent) respondents are the most likely to say that the lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier to their professional success, while White respondents (69 percent) were the least likely. Nearly three in four Black (74 percent) and Asian American (74 percent) respondents also agree.
    • Political Affiliation: More than two in three Republicans (65 percent) say that lack of affordable child care is a barrier to their professional success, along with 77 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents.
  • The next generations’ support for child care represents a multiracial coalition that crosses traditional gender and ideological differences, even among those without children. At least 8 in 10 Millennials and GenZers in each major racial and ethnic category identify access to childcare as “important,” with Black (64 percent) and Latinx (53 percent) respondents most likely to identify this issue as very important. Even respondents without children recognized the importance of child care, with over three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents without children identifying child care as an important issue. 

About the Author

Levi Bohanan Education & Early Years

Levi is an advocate for progressive child care policy and high-quality early education. Levi previously served in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Education, and has worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and with education nonprofits. At Next100, Levi’s work focuses on expanding access to high-quality child care and early childhood development opportunities.

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