August 3, 2011 / 6:34 PM / 8 years ago

Costs mean women wait to start, expand family

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Women are waiting longer to start a family and may have fewer children than planned due to tough economic times, according to a new study.

Beachgoer Chelsea Donaldson of Pensacola lifts her son Preston Simmons age 5 months on Pensacola Beach, Florida after a storm June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Colin Hackley

Sixty one percent of mothers questioned in a survey said they were worried about not having enough money to raise their children and 72 percent said the weak economy was a big consideration.

Most women said they were planning to have two children, but would have a third if they could afford the added costs.

“Parents have always been a little worried about their finances but this recession has had a serious effect on parents’ confidence about having kids,” said Linda Murray, of the parenting and pregnancy website BabyCenter, which conducted the poll.

The survey of 1,035 women follows the release of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June that showed it costs a middle-income family on average $226,920 to raise a child born in 2010 to age 18, excluding college.

Low-income and high-come families would spend $163,440 and $377,040, respectively.

Forty three percent of mothers waited to have a child until they were financially prepared and two out of three admitted the economy would have an impact on the size of their family.

“Their worries are not the finer things in life,” Murray said. “These are the basics that any parent would want to give their children.

Women are not only likely to have fewer children; they are also more likely to be out in the workforce than at home. Given the choice, 63 percent of mothers said they would work less and take the pay cut if they could, while 59 percent would stop working completely.

The biggest financial worry for the parents of the recession generation, or children born during the recession, is education. More than half of women who took part in the poll have started to save for their children’s future, and 40 percent planned to do so.)

Money was the main cause of stress for 76 percent of the women and most said that an income of $100,000 a year would be needed to relieve them of financial worry.

Reporting by Paula Rogo; editing by Patricia Reaney

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