The idyllic American family conjures up images of a home in 1950s suburbia, a white picket fence, a golden retriever, and 2.5 kids.

The United States’ total fertility rate indicates that for the U.S. to sustain its current population, women need to have an average of 2.1 children.

If that birthrate isn’t sustained, the country risks a shrinking workforce, economic decline and a dwindling tax base.

Those risks have turned into reality. 

The United States’ total fertility rate is now 1.7 kids and falling. Almost half of non-parent adults tell the Pew Research Center they will likely not have any children. 

Northeastern Wisconsin families understand why. They know the persistent struggle to afford everything from diapers to housing. It now costs $310,600 to raise a child from birth to age 18, a 9.1% increase from five years ago, according to The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit public policy organization.