Utah birth rate decline is partially due to cost, expert says

Aug 28, 2023, 12:00 PM

A baby with their mouth open....

FILE - Utah's birthrate is declining. (


SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah birth rate has been on the decline quite steadily since 2008. Now, local policy advocates are looking for ways to help families have more kids.

The Policy Project is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. Its aim is to remove barriers to opportunity by promoting the creation of solution-based policies. 

According to Emily Bell McCormick, the founder of The Policy Project, the factors driving the decline are complicated. One reason, however, is the cost. 

Factors for Utah birth rate

According to the University of North Carolina Population Center, American’s desire to have children hasn’t changed. Young people feel more worried about the future. Factors such as the economy, affordability, and the availability of child care have raised concerns among younger people more now than ever before.

These concerns are driving Utah’s birth rate to decline, along with the rest of the United States. 

“It’s so unaffordable,” said McCormick about the cost of having children today. Societal shifts have made modern life less conducive to raising children. 

“Back in the day, [there] were parent-centric homes where people were having a lot of kids because they needed the help on the farm … now we’re all the way to the other end where the expectations on parents are so heavy, ” said McCormick.  

McCormick said that the workday does not honor the natural ebbs and flows that occur in life. Young children need to be looked after, especially before they are in school. The nine-to-five workday doesn’t account for that, according to McCormick. 

Policies to help

The Policy Project is looking at backing solutions to help families financially. McCormick said that policies need to be innovative, not make it harder to have kids. 

Proposed solutions could help increase Utah’s birth rate, or the nation’s. 

“I wanted to purchase a home first, I wanted to finish my education first. I read somewhere that if you have a master’s degree your kids have better outcomes. We have a much more informed base of child producers, essentially,” said McCormick.

Providing financial assistance to families could provide a solution. McCormick offered up more child tax credits or funding for child care, or for one parent to stay home with their children as solutions to the barrier many people are facing. 

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Utah birth rate decline is partially due to cost, expert says