When family finances come in the way of family planning

December 7, 2011 12:54:06 PM PST
Laurie and Ryan want to have another baby.

"Once you get married everybody is like, 'Oh, when are you having a baby?' And then, once you have a baby everyone is like, 'Oh, when are you having another baby?' But it's not always that easy," Laurie explains.

The economy stands in their way.

"Two would scare the heck out of me because to have childcare costs times two. I mean, that's another big chunk of change," Ryan says.

The couple spends $11,000 on child care for their daughter Olivia, who is 1 and half. Ryan, a detective, gets extra income working in his family's business.

But Laurie's job is a major factor in their family planning. 14 out of 21 people have been laid off at the child care association where she works. Laurie isn't sure if she'll have a job come January.

"I'm 39 now and so there's a window, and that window closing while the job window closes at the same time, or potentially will close. It's a little unnerving," she says.

Women are already waiting longer to have kids; now they are having fewer of them. In 2010, 4 million babies were born in the United States, down from the peak of 4.3 million in 2007.

Dr. Jacques Moritz has delivered about 3,000 babies and sees a direct correlation between the number of children people have and economic stability.

"There's no doubt that the economy matters in having children. It has mattered throughout history," Moritz says. "In the Depression, it went down. In other recessions, it went down. And in boom times, it goes up."

So as the cost of a child keeps rising, couples become more and more hesitant to take the leap.

"Couples are telling me that the economy is tight and having a kid is a great expense. People think about kids and college and education and all the costs involved, and they're right," he says. "So they're seeing the moment right now and they're postponing it."

Mortiz says women think they can't afford to have a baby. But for many, they can't afford to wait.

"The stock is up, the stock is down, but the stock of the eggs is always going down basically every year we get older," he says.

For Laurie and Ryan, the economic hurdle is currently too big to ignore. But they keep a hopeful position.

"If we can add another one, great," says Ryan. "If that doesn't happen, then we're not going to be any less happy for what we have."