Babies are out; pets are in. New reports show that while student loan debt is forcing Millennials to push back the decision to have children, they spend more and more on pets every year.
The crushing student loan debt burden
It’s no secret that student loan debt is a huge burden on the finance of the Millennial generation. As CNBC recently reported, the total outstanding student loan debt in America now totals some $1.5 trillion. And all that debt is contributing to young people today taking longer to launch: delaying moving out of their parents’ houses, delaying marriage, and delaying the decision to have children.
A recent survey finds in particular that Millennial women are putting off children because of crippling student loan debt. The survey, by Future Family — a start-up that educates women about fertility — found that 44% of women reported having student debt. Of those women, half said that the loans affected their decisions about having children. Future Family polled 1,000 women in the U.S. ages 25 to 40 without children.
Forty-two percent of women have more than $30,000 in college debt, according to CNBC, compared with 27% of men. Women outnumber men in college and are more likely to pursue graduate degrees.
Fewer babies, but more ‘fur babies’
But while fertility is down — women are having an average of 1.8 kids today, down from 3.7 in 1960, according to the Census Bureau — pet ownership (and pampering) is on the rise. A survey by TD Ameritrade finds that Millennials are spending lavishly on their pets. Out of 1,500 Millennials survey, 72% had pets and most of those pet owners (67%) regarded their animals as “fur babies.”
According to USA Today, an average dog owner spends $1,285 a year on their pet, while cat owners spend $915 a year.
What’s more, seven in 10 Millennials (68%) would happily take time off to care for a new pet — ‘paw-ternity leave‘ — if their employer offered it as a perk.