72% of older Americans strongly oppose paying for universal childcare, says new survey

But if a generation can't afford to have children, who will look after older Americans?

older americans universal childcare

Americans are having fewer children than in decades past, and the cost of childcare is absolutely a factor. Millennial parents are struggling to afford childcare and some are hoping for relief in the form of a federally-funded universal childcare policy. Some politicians are campaigning on it, but most baby boomers are far from sold on the idea.

While surveys suggest that the rising cost of childcare is keeping many younger Americans from having as many children as they would like, they also suggest that older Americans are strongly opposed to universal childcare.

According to a Hill-HarrisX survey released earlier this month, 72% of registered voters 50 and older believe day care costs should be paid by parents, not a federally funded universal childcare program or a subsidy that would halve costs.

And while much of the current political conversation is focused on who and what is trending among millennials, baby boomers outvote millennials and Gen-Xers, so even if the policy is popular among today's young mothers and fathers, there will likely be more grandmothers and grandfathers at the polls.

So why are older Americans not into the idea of subsidizing childcare?

For one thing, as Bryce Covert wrote for The New Republic last year, "Most Americans have long considered child care to be a personal problem rather than a collective one."

Colvert's opening line is so obvious to anyone who has brought up the cost of childcare (or housing or student loans) at a family dinner only to have a relative reply, "if you can't afford a child, don't have one."

But maybe we should reply, "if a generation can't afford to have children, you won't have them when you need them."

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The U.S. Census Bureau projects that within a couple of decades there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. We need younger generations to care for the older ones, but if parents aren't supported, there will be fewer young people.

For Americans of all ages, we need to address this childcare crisis. Maybe universal childcare isn't the solution, but we need to accept that this is a problem that impacts the future of the entire country, not just parents.

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