Canadian Youth Delay Parenthood Amid Economic and Mental Health Challenges

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In today’s fast-paced world, Canada’s contemporary youth are grappling with issues such as economic volatility, mental health, and the lingering reverberations from the COVID-19 pandemic. This trio of challenges have mounted insurmountable pressure on approximately 7.3 million Canadians aged 15 to 29, negatively impacting their quality of life, recently noted in a report by Statistics Canada. This vast array of stressors is also influencing them to defer parenthood.

The report revealed that affordability woes, housing inadequacies, and these are increasingly determining the fertility intent among Canadians, particularly those aged 20 to 29. Significantly, the fertility rate in the country has shown a declining trend since 2009, with 2020 witnessing a drop from 1.47 to 1.40 children per woman.

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Intriguingly, 43 per cent of younger Canadians continue to reside with at least one parent, and mental health deterioration has been a concerning issue since 2003. Despite their resilience, the younger generation holds a subdued hope for the future, and they are burdened with more housing expenses than their predecessors.

An alarming percentage of young adults, approximately 38 per cent, believe that they cannot afford to have a child within the next three years, while 32 per cent are doubtful about securing suitable housing for starting a family. Consequently, these financial constraints are prompting young adults to reconsider having children at all, thus possibly transforming Canada’s long-term demographic and geographic composition.

Young Canadians appear to be less satisfied and less optimistic about the future, and a pivotal issue that emerges is the escalating cost of living. For instance, in 2022, a fraction of 32 per cent of young people refrained from buying a home or shifting to a new rental due to budgetary restrictions.

This economically challenging scenario persists beyond the age of 30 and can permanently affect their access to the expected living standards during adulthood, which they theoretically envisaged during their formative years.

Furthermore, housing expenses have drastically impacted young Canadians. With home prices reaching unprecedented levels inaccessible for the average Canadian earner, the national average home price in August skyrocketed by 2.1 per cent to $650,140 year-over-year. Rental prices mirror a similar ascending trend, where young people are more likely to rent, leaving them vulnerable to changes in the housing and rental markets.

The increasing cost of living is compelling young people to share residences with roommates or parents, with 18 per cent of people aged 20 to 29 living with people outside their family in 2021. At the same time, 43 per cent of young adults continue to live with at least one parent.

Despite these profound difficulties, Canada’s youth have shown resilience but are undoubtedly less hopeful for the future. Although they endure high levels of poverty and are often employed in lower-wage industries, they persevere. Sadly, as disposable income dwindles, so too does their opportunity for recreational activities, amplifying their growing sense of dissatisfaction and fostering decline in mental health.