Jim B*** said "it's all about the MONEY."
Not really. It's all about the dreams. Dreams and belief. Dreams girls have of a boyfriend who will love them and love their baby and give them a home and a family and a future. Belief in the loving lies boys tell them - dreams and hopes the boy may or may not believe themselves, but at least they have to be able to imagine them, feel them as real in the moment they speak.
" 'It is whether or not young people have a perception of opportunity, so they see something bigger for themselves,' Ms. Peck [a state official] said."
Ms. Peck has it backwards. Birthrates are down because there is less perception of opportunity, not more! There have never been fewer summer jobs. There's almost nothing out there for the tens of thousands of kids who can't finish high school or who go on to college. And surely they're hearing the stories of the ones who did and ended up with nothing but a huge debt they can never pay off.
No, it isn't the alternative future of success and prosperity that has that girl putting off having that baby. And it isn't the dream of a life on welfare either.
Welfare life sucks, as any child who grew up on it knows full well. It's humiliating. The money isn't enough to live on but any effort to get more can get you kicked off. Food Stamps don't last the month. Everyone has to cheat to survive, and everyone lives in fear of getting caught. Welfare doesn't cover rent and it can be years of waiting to get Section 8. Then they live in fear of losing it. TFADC is supposed to be temporary, good for two years out of five, but there's no daycare for the other three, and these days there's no job either.
Kids hate going to school in Goodwill clothing that some other kid may recognize. School lunch may be their only meal. Parents come home angry and frustrated from their latest bout with an overworked, snippy caseworker, and then snap and yell when kids ask for money for something.
No, no girl has a baby so she can get more of that life.
For that woman-child in her man-child's arms, there may be a calculation, but it's one that comes filtered through stories and hopes and fairy-tale images. If she has that baby, it's because some boy sells her a dream she's ready to believe in.
And when even that silver-tongued boy can't offer her a dream to live for, birthrates go down.