TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For potential parents, younger generations are facing a choice between pets or children. A study by Rover found that 1 in 10 American parents chose to wait to have a child and got a dog or a cat instead, due to the lower upfront costs.
Those numbers are higher for the youngest groups of parents: Millennials and Gen Z. For adults born between 1981 and 1996, the Millennials, 22% of those with pets chose to delay having a child or won’t at all, due to the lower total cost of caring for their babies, furry or otherwise.
From Gen Z, the younger generation or those born between 1997 to 2012, almost a quarter of respondents, 23%, said they’d wait to have children or would not, due to the costs. Overall, Rover reported 10% of all U.S. parents delayed having a child, or decided not to, in favor of getting a pet due to lower costs.
Between the three options, Rover focused on the costs for cats and dogs. For pet parents, cats were cheaper to adopt and care for, between $355 to $1,380, on average. NewYorkLife.com reported the cost of raising a human child in the first year was between $12,000 and $14,000.
In Florida alone, the CDC reported a birth rate decline between 1% and 2%. Still, the birth rate decrease was higher in some other states, like New York, California, Arizona and New Mexico, to name a few.
In addition to higher costs, now exacerbated by ongoing inflation, the birth rate across the U.S. has been on a decline since 2008, though the U.S. Census Bureau notes the decline briefly reversed in 2014. The pandemic didn’t help birth rates or cost concerns, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Rover’s studies on pet costs.
For Florida’s pet parents, as Rover calls them, 75% had reported increased costs for pet items and care needs, like veterinary visits or food, toys and leashes, as a result of inflation. 74% said they were worried about how much those costs could keep going up over their pet’s lifetime.
Rover’s survey found that 13% of Floridians across all ages have chosen to delay having a child or chosen not to, instead picking adoption of a dog or cat, due to the lower cost of having a pet compared to having a child.
Data on birth rates across the U.S. were not available for the second half of 2021. The most recent natality numbers from the CDC’s Vital Statistics Surveillance Report stop in June of last year.
Still, across the U.S., births were higher in June compared to the preceding two months, with 311,782 children born that month. For the time period data is available, it was the highest number of births per month in 2021. Compared to the 2019 and 2020 numbers, June’s 2021 birth rate was also higher than the previous years.
The state of Florida had the fourth highest birth rate in the nation through June 2021, behind California, Texas, and New York.