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Amelia’s journey to motherhood

Amelia, who spoke to Business Insider on the condition they wouldn’t use her last name, said that she and her 37-year-old husband, Kevin, have been trying to get pregnant for 18 months — to no avail.

The couple have already spent more than $1,000 on doctor’s visits, therapy and treatments — and that’s the cost with their insurance helping them out.

Amelia and Kevin have looked into other options, such as adoption. But adopting through the American foster care system can cost nearly $3,000, according to the most recent numbers from Adoptive Families. The prices are even higher if you choose to adopt through a private, individual or international agency, where it can range anywhere between $35,000 to $48,000.

“How much is a child worth it to you? Isn't a child worth $30,000? Isn't it worth it to you?” Amelia said in the Business Insider interview. “I'm like, ‘of course it's worth it, but I don't have $30,000.’”

In vitro fertilization (IVF) options also will cost you. One cycle can cost between $12,000 and $17,000 per round — and they aren't always covered by insurance, according to Mount Sinai.

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The cost of having a baby in the U.S.

It’s not just the fertility treatment costs that can burden DINKs, but everyday ones as well. Anyone may be put off the idea of reproducing once they see that the average annual bill for child care is $10,853, according to Child Care Aware of America’s most recent numbers.

Then, you have to factor in housing, feeding, educating and clothing the child — for at least 18 years. The Brookings Institute’s most recent estimates said it costs, on average, $26,011 a year to raise a kid. That’s at least $468,198 over the next 18 years.

Then you need to consider inflation. If you look at the past few years, you can see that prices are steadily climbing. Home prices increased by 28% from 2020 to 2023, according to the Federal Reserve, and grocery bills jumped 25% from 2020 to 2024, according to the Washington Post.

Plus, many kids require support beyond age 18. A USA Today study discovered that 65% of parents provide some sort of financial support to their adult kids between the ages 22 and 40.

What it means for the economy

The global birth rate has been cut in half from the 1950s to 2021 — from 4.84 children born per woman to 2.23 children born per woman, according to a new study in the medical journal, The Lancet.

But the authors’ modeling determines that the fertility rate will continue to decrease to 1.83 by 2050 and 1.59 by 2100. The general “replacement” fertility number needed to balance out the economy is 2.1 children per woman. Once the world dips below that mark, it will mean there are less workers and overall productivity could slow down considerably.

This decrease in fertility isn’t because of DINKs, though — demographer Dr. Jennifer D. Sciubba told CNN that there is a “large-scale, cross-national, cross-cultural shift” toward smaller families.

One of the senior authors of the Lancet study, Dr. Christopher Murray, added that smaller family sizes are a result of women having greater access to education, employment, contraception and reproductive health services.

However, Sciubba told CNN that these fertility dips could lead to an economy that adapts to the smaller number of people.

“The most useful thing is to zoom out and say, ‘there’s no doubt there has been a shift,’” Sciubba says. “‘It’s changing, so what do we do?’”

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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex

Reporter

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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