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Credit crunch scuppers parenthood

Four in 10 couples have shelved plans to start a family because they can’t afford it.



Sarah Davidson, 11 May, 2012

A study of 2,412 childless couples shows that 901 have been delaying having children for two years and three months so far.

Many fear that realistically they will have to wait for another two years before they feel they have achieved sufficient financial stability.

Of these people, two thirds are devastated that their plans have been ruined by the fact they don’t have enough money.

But 47% are still saving up to buy a house in which to raise their children, while 22% are looking for job security before going ahead.

The rising costs of utilities, petrol prices and food have also been quoted as key reasons why couples are postponing plans to start a family.

A spokeswoman for Skipton Building Society which carried out the study said: “The credit crunch has had a devastating effect on traditional family structures, as people can no longer have children as and when they want them.

“The past four years have seen a rise in the cost of living, and in contrast people are earning less than ever before, compounded with fears over job security.

“This is compared to previous generations who enjoyed fantastic pensions, better benefits and jobs for life.

“It is now more difficult than ever to deliver on traditional social expectations such as the 2.4 children family.”

Other reasons which best describe why couples aren’t starting a family immediately include the desire to get married first (22%) and the need to feel more self-sufficient (14%).

A fifth of respondents say they would like to have a certain amount of money in the bank before they commit to raising children – with many believing they need at least £4,867.

Understandably, 47% of those people polled are worried about being an ‘older parent’ – key concerns being that it might not be easy to conceive, and they might not be able to keep up with their children.

A further 22% are worried that other people might judge them for leaving parenthood so late, while 27% foresee working long into retirement so that they can support the children as they grow up.

The spokeswoman added: “The knock-on effect of having children later in life is that people aren’t able to relax and enjoy the retirement years because they are still committed to raising their children.

“The likelihood is that this is an added reason why many people of this generation won’t be able to retire as early as they’d like because they’ll still be forking out hundreds of pounds on child care, education, house deposits and other handouts.

“The impacts of the global financial crisis over the past four years really are far-reaching and it appears to be affecting traditional family structures as well as people’s personal financial aspirations.

“However, it’s not all doom and gloom and careful forward planning and budgeting, as well as a dose of well chosen expert advice can make life goals such as starting a family more attainable in the shorter term.”

In addition, Skipton Building Society also polled 1,758 parents, and found a whopping 70% had planned to expand their existing brood but have changed their plans for financial reasons.

Indeed the average parent surveyed already had two children and would have liked two more.

But 32% simply wouldn’t be able to afford childcare for another child, while 30% don’t have enough money to go on maternity leave.

Six in 10 parents are currently saving in the hope they can one day try for another baby but the same percentage fear the credit crunch has completely ruined their chances of having any more children.




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