According to a UN report, in India, total fertility rate per woman was 5.6 in 1969, plummeting to 3.7 in 1994 and 2.3 in 2019. More specifically, it is 1.8 in urban India and 2.4 in rural areas. This decline in TFR over the years showcases the clear trend that couples today prefer to have 1-2 kids at most. A family health survey concluded that only 24% of women want a second child. Earlier, people used to have kids in double digits, the number being exponentially higher than the present. What are the factors that lead up to this? While a number of factors including pre-mature wedding, family pressure, late pregnancies, career ambitions, etc. contribute to the cause, the dominant factor remains a monumental surge in costs. With money motivating and driving people in this generation, incurring financial instability from having a child seems unwise.
Many couples conclude that having a child might hinder their career opportunities and keep them out of the social loop. While many rural areas remain unaffected, in urban areas this mindset has grown steadily. Also, many women do not want their body to undergo long-lasting changes that a pregnancy might ideate. Couples speculate that they might lose their individuality and leisure time if they have kids.
What are the factors that up the cost?
Firstly, the pregnancy period of nine months, where regular check-ups, various tests and scans, etc. lead to humongous expenses. Then comes the delivery, where woman today prefer Caesarean delivery as it doesn’t hurt as much as normal delivery but is more expensive. According to reports, a normal delivery in India at a reputed hospital will cost you about Rs 50,000 – Rs 2,00,000 and a caesarean delivery in India in a reputed hospital will cost you about Rs 2,00,000 – Rs 4,00,000. Earlier people used home remedies and delivery used to happen in their own homes. This used to keep the costs of child birth low.
After that comes parenting, the most integral part. Initial costs include MRI scans, tests, check-ups, clothes, stroller, car seat, crib, moisturizer, medicines, etc. Another aspect is housing, you need a bigger, more spacious space. As time goes on, soft toys and various other indulgences lead to expenses. While this is the situation at present, earlier people were not subjected to this level of pampering and attention. The number of children were so many that personal attention was rarely given and everyone was left to fend for themselves. Another huge part that dictates the cost is education. From playschools to university colleges, education in India has become very expensive.
While earlier government schools were the go- to for children, nowadays private schools providing much more needed facilities are preferred. Development of a child in all aspects relating to sports, creativity, vacations, technology, etc. requires money and time. Development of tuition classes also adds an extra layer of cost today. Coupled up with the factor of competition, parents invest their sweat and blood to make their child smarter than the rest.
This type of honed attention and focus was not usually given to children earlier. Up to ages 23-34, the costs of education alone cripples a parent. While many children succeed and become independent, some are lost into the fray. In these cases, the parent’s obligations are still unfufilled. Nowadays, many parents are forced or motivated to invest in their children’s businesses.
This trend shows that parents can never really break free of the financial bind of their children. These combine and collate to form a serious question—Can you afford to raise a child in this age?!
With inflation and unemployment figures through the roof, parents are apprehensive and hesitant to afford another life. There’s no question that children bring unattainable joy and meaning to your life but bring a parent, you want to give your child the best of everything and that’s when the ugly question rears its head. While observing the shift in the TFR and the trend of surging costs over the years, the big question emerges—Will there come a time when raising a child might become a luxury?
Written by Sonal for The Connectere