An article in the Financial Times written by Patti Waldmeir is interesting to me. She writes about America’s millennials who are delaying having children or even avoiding it altogether and instead adopting a companion animal.
She refers to a lady whose name is Brianna Wright, the consumer analyst at LendingTree.com who conducted a survey on pet debt. She is a millennial herself and she looks after a cat. She makes the point that a lot of Americans now realise that pet cats and dogs are members of the family and their guardians will do anything to help them and keep them healthy (if they are good at it). And if you don’t have children your companion cat or dog is your child.
She says that some millennial cat and dog owners get into debt over their companion animals. A survey she did found that 41% of pet owners pay for emergency expenses with a credit card. But they do this because they have less discretionary income than older companion animal caretakers. It is tougher for young people nowadays.
A recent survey also showed that 42% of US millennials have gone into debt for their companion animals. One in ten is still paying that debt off we are told. But these people are choosing to raise cats and dogs and sometimes other exotic animals such as pigs rather than children.
One obvious reason is that it costs a lot less to raise a domestic cat or dog than it does to raise a child. In the UK it costs about a quarter million pounds (£250,000) to raise a child to independence whereas it cost about £15,000 to look after a cat for the life of the cat (including insurance).
The fertility rate in America has fallen provisionally to 59 per 1000 women aged 15-44 last year. This is a record low according to the US Centres for Disease Control’s National Centre for Health Statistics.
According to another survey by the Pew Research Centre, about 70% of American parents under the age of 50 say that it is unlikely that they will have more children in the future. And among adults who are childless about 37% say that they don’t expect to become parents ever.
From a commercial standpoint this is bad news for the American economy. The world model for the economies of countries is that there must be growth. You can only fuel growth with an increasing population. Germany has a problem with Germans giving birth to new German citizens to ensure that there is continued growth in the country. This is why Angela Merkel allowed in 1 million immigrants.
I’ve always thought that the model of continued economic growth is a false one. It certainly is in respect of the welfare and conservation of wild animals because they gradually get pushed off the planet. Conservation will always lose as long as the world lives on the basis of continued economic growth as a fundamental model.
I wonder too if a lot of people nowadays are more fearful of the future and whether that fear sometimes translates into a reluctance to having children. They don’t want to bring children into what they perceive to be a dangerous world and a difficult future. In lieu of that and to satisfy their parental instincts they adopt a companion animal, usually a dog or cat, instead. Companion animals pretty much do what a child does and many people would say they do it better. And they are cheaper too. A lot cheaper.
SOME PAGES ON STATISTICS:
POLL: how many birds does your cat kill per year? Please complete it to scotch ‘rumours’ of cats killing billions of birds.