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“It’s not easy to leave in life”: when inflation kills the desire to have children

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For a few days, The newspaper will present you with portraits of young people who are about to embark on life. Inflation, housing crisis, debt: many young Quebecers are worried about their future.

Between food inflation and the cost of housing, many young Quebec families are having a hard time making ends meet and some may even postpone or give up giving birth to a child.

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“As a family, we just want to give the best things, but fruits and vegetables have made it more buyable,” exclaims Fred-Oliver Gagné-Tremblay, father of two little boys.

Fred-Oliver Gagne-Tremblay

Photo taken from Facebook

Despite a rent of $400 and many second-hand purchases, the young postman from Quebec and his spouse are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the bills.

The young man considers himself lucky. He benefits from a very moderate rent for a four and a half in the building of his parents-in-law.

He would of course like to buy a house… But that will be for later, “when real estate will be less crazy”.

Despite child benefits, child-related costs are high – around $13,000 per year according to the latest Canadian Moneysense study from 2015.

Consequently, young families are particularly affected by the inflation and the housing crisis that are raging in Quebec.

Four out of 10 families with young children fear not being able to make ends meet and pay the bills, according to a survey conducted in the summer of 2022 by the Observatoire des Tout-petits.

The figure rises to 6 out of 10 for tenant families. It’s even worse for single mothers and immigrants.

Fewer children due to costs?

A quarter of 15-25 year olds say they do not want children, according to the 2023 Youth Survey by the Institut Léger. Among them, nearly half cite economic reasons for this choice.

So is this a sign that young Quebecers will have even fewer children in the future because of the cost of living?

Difficult to predict, answer the experts consulted by The newspaper.

The other generations have also experienced crises. And the will to have children or not remains rather stable.

However, the new constraints could lead to family adjustments.

“In Quebec, there is an ideal for having children, underlines Laurence Chartron, professor at the INRS. You have to have a certain stability: spouse, work. And often, we will buy a house, it’s a bit of the ideal imagination.

So when the house or the rent are more expensive, when life is more expensive, the researcher recognizes that this can create some anxiety.

And this could encourage some women to have fewer children than they would have liked.

The end of a family ideal

Another possible consequence: yet another decline in the age of the first child, raises Dominique Morin, professor at Laval University.

But it is above all the end of a model, explains the sociologist: that of the day after the Quiet Revolution, of the autonomous family living in a single-family house.

The younger generations will have to review their aspirations and reinvent themselves. They will need more parental help to settle in life.

As for the older ones, they will have to rely on the young people to help them age at home.

More intergenerational solidarity and cohabitation could well be the key words for the coming years, concludes Mr. Morin.

In numbers

1.58

  • This is the fertility rate per woman in 2021 in Quebec. (ISQ) This rate was 1.65 in 1991.

29.5 years old

  • Average age of women at the birth of a first child in 2021. It was 27.1 years in 2001. (ISQ)

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