Want millennials to get married and have babies? Change the policies that stop us. – The Washington Posthttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/want-millennials-to-get-married-and-have-babies-change-the-policies-that-stop-us/2019/05/29/497ca3a6-82… 1/3The Washington PostOpinionsWant millennials to get married and have babies? Change the policies that stop usBy Elizabeth BruenigWhen I interviewed for my first job with The Post at age 25, I wore an oversize jacket in hopes of concealing thefact that I was pregnant. (The ruse failed to fool any of the seasoned journalists who interviewed me.) I knewthat it is technically illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in hiring, and I knew that it happensanyway. A trove of pregnancy-obscuring wardrobe advice posts scattered across mom forums suggests thatplenty of women find themselves facing the same dilemma: When you’re badly in need of a job, why add onemore downside for potential employers?Bootstraps-minded people are likely thinking at this point in this column: If you really needed a job, youshouldn’t have gotten pregnant. But when lots and lots of millennials factor in that same reasoning and elect toput off marriage and parenthood in hopes of getting into a reasonably decent financial position beforehand,their individual choices apparently constitute a societal crisis.Efforts to puzzle out why younger Americans might be putting off the traditional milestones of adulthood —most notably marriage and parenthood — make up a significant portion of the entries in the wildly popularmillennial panic genre of commentary. Arguments that this dawdling could be a major problem for ourgeneration, the ones above ours and the ones that follow practically constitute their own sub-industry. A recentspecimen found one writer lamenting that, because of millennial debt, pride and insouciance, “Marriage hastaken a serious nosedive, and we are all worse off as a result.”Millennial reluctance to commit to the adult milestones of yesteryear is probably due in some part to culture;younger people now want more time to grow into themselves and achieve an independent identity before theyenmesh themselves in the webs of marriage and parenthood.But what most complaints about millennial delays miss is that even if there weren’t cultural reasons for puttingoff marriage and parenthood, millennials would still be acting reasonably if they decided to wait to startfamilies: Thanks to student debt, a dearth of parental benefits and the instability induced by our labor market,settling down and having kids are far riskier propositions than they have to be. Fortunately, we can use policyto reduce the risks and make marriage and parenthood more attractive, accessible options for the manymillennials who do feel emotionally ready — though financially unprepared — to pursue them.With millennials bearing the heaviest debt load in history, it’s not surprising they’re not exactly thrilled aboutmarriage, which involves thrusting financial burdens upon a partner. One way of reversing millennials’ debtconundrum would be to forgive student debt for those already underwater and to institute free college tuition
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