BOSTON (CAP) - Statistical data indicating that 2011 had one of the lowest US birth rates in recorded history has researchers scrambling to figure out why so few Americans are having babies.
"The economy is a huge factor," one researcher told CAP News. "When couples are struggling to make ends meet, they are much less inclined to either start families or to have more children."
However, additional studies suggest that the increasingly affordable amusement offered by smartphones, flat-screen televisions and other electronic devices has given would-be parents a more interesting and controllable method of entertaining themselves - making reproduction less appealing in general.
"The trend used to be that young adults got married and started families fairly quickly," said government statistician Nathan Aldridge. "Once they settled into married life, many reasoned that children would fill their days and homes with activity and excitement.
"Nowadays, with many other entertainment options available through services like Netflix and online role-playing games, people are finding other ways to occupy their time," he added.
Thousands of childless couples interviewed nationwide have backed up this assertion, with many claiming that they don't have time to raise children and aren't sure when they will. And although some cited long working hours as the reason behind their busy schedules, others blamed the constant pressure to keep up with wildly popular television series including Downtown Abbey and Walking Dead.
"I'd love to have kids someday," said Allison Firth, 31, who has been married for four years. "But [husband] Brent and I just started watching LOST again on Netflix - like, from the very beginning. It's a huge time commitment! Plus we're two seasons behind on Breaking Bad. I'm staying up 'til midnight every night as it is. Adding a baby to all that is just not feasible right now."
Other respondents noted that they barely had enough time in the evenings to spend a few hours on Facebook or to play World Of Warcraft.
"I like the idea of having a baby," said Andi Pettit, 29. "But I'm not sure one would fit into my lifestyle at this point." Pettit says she and her husband are currently "addicted to Modern Family, halfway through re-watching The X-Files, and trying to get caught up on Supernatural," and are also embroiled in several heated games of Words With Friends.
"My parents really want us to have kids, but I'm not sure I'm into the idea," said her husband Ben. "I hear you can't turn them off or put them on silent if they're bothering you," he added.
A large percentage of couples in their early 30s also noted that they already have pets, which many indicated is more than enough responsibility for them at this time.
- Molly Schoemann