Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Earth Stats United States News

US Birthrate Plummets To Record Low 567

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The rate decreased to 63.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age — a little more than half of its peak, which was in 1957. The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, but the decline is being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. Overall, the average number of children a U.S. woman is predicted to have in her lifetime is 1.9, slightly less than the 2.1 children required to maintain current population levels. Although the declining U.S. birthrate has not created the kind of stark imbalances found in graying countries such as Japan or Italy, it should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, says Roberto Suro, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California. 'We've been assuming that when the baby-boomer population gets most expensive, that there are going to be immigrants and their children who are going to be paying into [programs for the elderly], but in the wake of what's happened in the last five years, we have to reexamine those assumptions,' he said. 'When you think of things like the solvency of Social Security, for example, relatively small increases in the dependency ratio can have a huge effect.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Birthrate Plummets To Record Low

Comments Filter:
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:03PM (#42145423) Homepage

    They essentially bypassed taking a couple days to learn the Constitution and a basic English test and an oath of loyalty to the US.

    Legally immigrating to the US does not require one to do any of those things. Only those who wish to take US citizenship, which legal immigrants are eligible for only after years of living in the US, must do those things. And many legal immigrants to the US are happy to stay at the level of permanent residency, never applying for citizenship.

  • by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:20PM (#42145721)
    Frankly, I'm repulsed by this notion that "Hey, we gotta keep pumping out more kids so that we have a big base paying into social security to offset all the geezers taking their benefits". In any other situation, the notion of needing lots of new contributions to help fund the payouts to the holders of mature shares would be called what it really is: a pyramid scheme. Every pyramid scheme, eventually, runs out of sources of new influx as the system grows exponentially. And, in the case of population, it brings with it all sorts of negative consequences, like soaring housing costs in places that don't suck.

    Frankly, I view population growth as akin to deficit spending... you can only get away with it for so long. So, rather than wait until we've exceeded the earth's capacity to support us, let's bite the bullet now. Let's embrace policies which encourage either zero-growth or population reduction and just accept the fact that it means that we'll all have to work a longer % of our life-expectancy.
  • Re:OK, so... (Score:5, Informative)

    by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:31PM (#42145909) Homepage
    You've got it backwards. The Dems generally want Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security kept out of the regular budget, and not means tested. Doing those things would make the programs, in essence, just more welfare programs, and thus more easily cut in hard times. You are also mistaken about the "trust fund." The trust fund currently consists of Federal government bonds, because all the money was used at the time it was raised, to make the deficit appear lower. The net effect is that when it's time to make payments from the trust fund, the government must either inflate the currency to make those bonds less expensive in real terms to buy back (thus hurting people who actually save money), raise taxes to get more revenue to pay off the bonds (thus hurting those who will then be paying in to benefit those who are paying in now), sell other bonds to pay off the earlier bonds (thus increasing the national debt/interest on net, and on the assumption that US government bonds haven't gone off a cliff), or not pay the promised benefits. Some combination of these three is most likely. But the reality is that there is no trust fund in any meaningful sense; there is a set of promises that will have to be redeemed by hurting someone or everyone at some point in the future.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:32PM (#42145915)

    "One's" is probably 70 or 80 years old, and grew up and raised children at a time when economic realities were totally different. When it was normal to support a family on a single salary. When you didn't have to go to college to break into (or stay in) the middle class. (One of my college professors told me that when he was in college in the 1940s, he earned enough money in his summer job to pay tuition for the year!) When the median house cost 2x the median annual salary, not 8x. When employees had job security and strong unions and could expect a pension, and medical costs were not 20% of the GDP.

    The bigger TV and even the second car are small expenses compared to the costs of establishing economic security in modern America.

    It's a conceit of the old that because they had it hard, we somehow have it easier. But it's understandable.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:48PM (#42146225) Homepage Journal

    Hi there. Immigrant to the US from Canada here. I figured I'd just respond to the parent (mostly a troll) and some of the siblings here.

    Immigration to the United States requires a significant amount of money and time. First, you have to qualify for either one of the immigrant visa [] categories, or come across on what's called a dual intent [] visa and then adjust status to Permanent Resident []. These processes variously require interviews with USCIS [] and a significant wait for certain categories (more than a decade in a few, months to years for most), not to mention that the filing and other fees for the whole process can run into the thousands of dollars. (Did you know that USCIS, like the Post Office, doesn't take taxpayer dollars and instead is self-funded from filing fees? Good for you, not great for immigrants.)

    If you came over on a nonimmigrant visa, like a visitor, work, or educational visa, you're likely going to have to return home before you can start the real immigration process, unless it's "dual intent" like the K-1 fiance(e) visa as I mentioned before.

    Reason has a very good overview of the various paths available. []

    No, we aren't required to take a test on civics and English. That is required when one naturalizes [], or becomes a United States citizen. This has a prerequisite of legally residing continually in the US for three or five years, depending on the visa category in which you entered. (Oh, and another thousand dollars, thanks.) The process, like other USCIS processes, takes about a year in wait and processing time. The process is also entirely not required; one can continue to be a permanent resident for as long as one likes, as long as one continues to file for an extension of one's Permanent Resident status (i.e. green card).

    I personally plan to become a US citizen (well, dual citizen) as soon as possible though, because it allows one to obtain a US Passport (faster border travel), means one is done with USCIS forever (barring very specific, very rare circumstances), and allows one to vote.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, the next time you want to make assumptions about legal immigration, look into it first. It's quite complicated, expensive, and not for the faint of heart.

    "Give me your tired, your poor"? Not so much.

  • by johanwanderer ( 1078391 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:51PM (#42146273)
    It's not just the overall birth rate, but also the break down [] of birth rate to various segments of population that matters.

    The linked article displays population projection from now to 2050, broken down by segments. It also shows the education levels of each segment. What it imply is we will end up with a less educated work force moving forward unless we are doing some heavy investing now.

    So, your $20 in 1969 may turn into $0 (albeit in 2050) unless we can somehow shore up "the kids these days".
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:52PM (#42146289) Homepage

    "You do know there are millions of legal immigrants flooding into the country right? "

    Stop listening to Rush Limburger and the other members of the idiot brigade.

    there are NOT millions of them FLOODING into the country.

  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:55PM (#42146353) Journal

    Why do you think it worked for so many thousands of years and yet we will somehow sustain a population with nobody having kids anymore.

    It didn't work very well, though. Infant mortality was very high. Lifespans were shorter. *People* were shorter due to not getting enough food as kids. That is not a better world than what we have today.

    Furthermore, why do we need to sustain a population of 7+ billion, as opposed to some lower number? A century ago there were fewer than 2 billion, and it certainly wasn't the end of the world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:02PM (#42146501)

    Illegal by what law? You can't be illegal if there is no law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:12PM (#42146617)

    It's the whole reason the US isn't having enough kids to sustain itself, and the reason the Japanese are probably going to collapse in a few decades from a population implosion.

    No, the problem with Japan's birth rate is that more and more males no longer want to even bother dealing with the opposite sex [].

    And I wouldn't blame them. The "traditional" social expectation (and this isn't exclusively a Japanese thing) is for men to work day and night (as a salaryman), while the wife stays home.

    Some woman will probably chime in how hard it is to clean the house and take care of the kids, and those jobs are just as important. Well, if it's so hard and important how about we switch?

    Ah, but here's where social expectations come in. Technically it's possible, but socially the male will be seen as weak, a deadbeat dad, not a "real" man if he does that. Oh, and what if divorce happens? Who's more likely to have to pay child support?

    It's just getting less and less appealing to marry, let alone have children.

  • by forand ( 530402 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:20PM (#42146733) Homepage
    You quote Average tax rate not the social security tax which is what matters. Please see these data []. Which show that, in fact, the highest quintile of earns pay a much smaller percentage than the second to highest. As this quintile makes the most money we are effectively taxing the most money less. More precisely you do not pay SS tax on monies earned over a fixed number.
  • Re:OK, so... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:44PM (#42147075)

    I think you are mistaken unless you are not speaking about the US which would be odd. The marginal tax rate has been relatively stable and dramatically decreased on the highest earners over the time period you to which you refer (see this article []).

    That's why you don't look at the highest earners (who actually enjoy some of the lowest rates, ever, right now). Back in 1928, people making less than $52k/year (in adjusted dollars) were actually in the lowest bracket, paying 1.5%. By 1935, those making less than $65k/yr paid 4%.

    This lasted until the start of WW-II, when tax rates went up and the thresholds for the brackets went down... to the point where someone making $60k/yr was in a 30% bracket. But, someone who had appreciable income earned before WW-II would have enjoyed some ridiculously-low tax rates averaged into their lifetime average.

  • Re:OK, so... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @05:22PM (#42147631)

    This is not how intergenerational transfers work. This is no ponzi scheme, unless the people in the US collectively decide to produce no more children and forbid all immigration. In which case I guess you'll have other, more urgent, problems. Ponzi schemes break down because eventually, you cannot grow the base fast enough. Intergenerational transfers work as long as there are new generations, which there will be for as long as there is a US of A. There are transitions between demographic structures, but these are temporary problems and require no long-term fixes : you can smooth out problems through borrowing.

    Basically, the US is broke exactly when people stop wanting T-bills, and not a moment before. The moment that happens is when people stop believing that the US will produce stuff in the next 3-10 years. And the rest of the planet offers significantly better prospects with very little risk.

    This will not happen. At least, not in the forseeable future.

    It doesn't matter that there is no money in the fund. In fact, it is a good thing: it is a terrible and wasteful thing to have large sums doing nothing in a bank account, and at the kind of scales we are talking about, this is nothing short of criminal. Because the ability to keep paying SS depends on the promise that the US is a place where riches are created (by which I mean goods and services, not bullion) it is an excellent strategy to invest the money in the fund to pay for whatever stuff makes Americans happy and productive.

    You want to know what happens when people start thinking like accountants? Look at Europe! Or think about outsourcing of IT departments, to give an example dear to the slashdot crowd. A country is not a household.

  • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:01PM (#42148213)

    Now just before Bush came into office in 2001, as an example, 1 American dollar was worth about 1.75 British pounds...After Bush left office...1 American dollar was worth about .55 {cent/pent} in British currency.

    You are clearly mistaken about the exchange rates. The USD has never been worth anywhere near 1.75 GBP, at least going back to 1953 [].

    The rate was 1.48 GBP to 1 USD in Jan 2001 (when Bush takes office) , and 1.45 GBP to 1 USD in Jan 2009 (when Bush leaves office). It did go as high as 2.10 in the interim, but there was no trend even close what you are suggesting.

    Not that I'm defending Bush, nor do I think that any of the rest of your post is remotely accurate, but those figures just stuck out to me as being entirely wrong.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban