Millenials Aren't Having Kids, They're Opting For Fur Babies Instead

Why are millenials opting out of having kids and going with a fur baby instead? 07.09.24

couple walking a puppy like a child

What Exactly Is A Fur Baby?

A fur baby is a term for a childless couple, used to describe their pet(s). In short it's an animal that's taken the place for what once was a child. No kids, no problem. I have a fur baby instead. They are considered to be children and therefore treated with the same devotion, love and admiration you'd expect.

Some Household Statistics

According to a recent statistics from the Population Reference Bureau, the average household consisting of married-couples with children has declined from 44% to 19% from 1960 to 2017. This means that now only 19% of the households in the US are comprised of married couples with kids. And according to the American Pet Products Association the number of households with pets has gone from 56% in 1988, to now 70% in 2022. It's like everyone has a pet these days. Millenials being the highest percentage of owners at 33%. Almost half of the pet owners in this country are millenials. So what's the appeal? Why are millenials starting to opt out and not have kids?

chart of statistics showing the decline in childbirths chart of statistics showing increase of households with pets

Financially Pets Are Way Cheaper

In 2017 the USDA published the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 was $233,610. If we take into account inflation, that same amount would be $309,544 in 2024. That comes out to $18,209 per year for having a single child in this country. And that's not including college tuition.

According to a recent study by Synchrony, the average annual cost of owning a dog is between $1270-$2803, and the average cost of owning a cat is from $961-$2487. Even at the high end of this estimate, pets are still are substantially cheaper than kids. From food and treats to toys and cleaning supplies the amount spent will be far less than that of a child. This leaves more disposable income on the table to use however you please.

It's Not Just The Money, Time Is Important Too

It would be a little dark to focus only on the financial upsides of not having a kid. But what about time? Time is one of the most precious resources we have in life. From 7AM to bedtime at 8PM everyday, when you have a kid your time is no longer yours. Having a pet allows you the freedom to leave the house for hours at a time without having to worry. Your schedule can stay more flexible. Planning trips is much easier knowing your dog can stay at a doggy daycare perfectly content playing with the other dogs.

Social Acceptance Of Later Babies

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services published in 2022 that the average age for first births is 27 while in 1960 that age was 22. If your friends aren't having kids, then you're more likely to be deincentivized yourself. When you have a kid you should be going to the zoo, playgrounds, or museums; Things kids enjoy doing. It's hard to convince a friend who doesn't have kids to want to always come along and do 'kids stuff'. Millenials are a true victim of FOMO, and because of this they won't want to compromise potential future plans.

photo of two Corgi puppies side by side

All My Friends Have Fur Babies, Let's Have a Play Date

If all of your friends have dogs then it makes sense for you to have one too. Why? Because instead of doing 'kids stuff', you can both enjoy doing 'dog stuff' together. Like take both of your dogs to the beach, find restaurants that allow animals, make plans to take the doggos to the dog park to socialize. It makes much more sense.

We Used To Have Kids For Help, The Times Have Changed

People used to have kids in order to help around the house or take care of the younger siblings. If you had a farm you would have kids to ultimately keep the farm alive via their free employment. The functionality of kids was a little different. In the early 1900s, life expectancy was much shorter too. Diseases such as measles, diphtheria, and pertussis were very common reasons for an early death in the family. The infant mortality rate started quite the slide from 165 per 1,000 in 1900 to 7 per 1,000 in 1997 (PBS). The small family businesses have been swallowed whole by capitalism and corporate America. In the past, agriculture and manufacturing were the dominant industries, but today, theres been a shift towards service-based and knowledge-based jobs. The shift in careers and their focus has had a direct impact on the reasons people have kids.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, the population of the world has grown at such an exponential rate over the past few decades that something like this is to be expected. The world and everything on it moves in cycles and this is no different. We have entered a new era and only time will tell where we go from here.

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