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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.'"
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US Birthrate Plummets To Record Low

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  • by Lithdren ( 605362 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:52PM (#42145193)

    ...who said they were illegal, and why would you assume simply refering to an 'immigrant' would result in only illegal immigrants?


  • Re:OK, so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:54PM (#42145245)

    At least you'll get something back, geezer. I don't expect social security to be around when I retire.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:55PM (#42145277) Journal

    Even if you are here illegally, you get payroll deductions. In fact, since you're afraid of the government you may decide not to file a tax return and claim your refund. You might consume more services at the local level, such as going to the ER for medical care which is expensive. There's a lot of data sloshing around; but it's clear that illegal immigrants pay some taxes. They definitely can't avoid sales tax which is pretty high in California now. For the types of jobs immigrants work, that sales tax is a pretty big hit since they'll be spending a large portion of their income right away--even if it's under the table and has no payroll deduction.

    Note, I'm not defending the idea of coming to a country illegally. We need to secure the borders, and address the supply and demand for labor in a way that's fair, productive, and beneficial to the whole country. I'm just saying that it's not accurate to say they pay "no taxes".

  • Kids cost money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:00PM (#42145347)

    Why would you want tonnes of kids when you can find a job and they want to cut your food stamps?

    You can't even get a living wage at Walmart!

  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:00PM (#42145359)
    How is being the very lowest it's ever been recorded as being since we began reliably recording it "not a record low"? Which word are we disagreeing on here, "low", or "record", since it certainly qualifies as a "record low" for any definition of either of these words I'm aware of. And if it's only a record low for most of our lifetimes, do tell us when it was lower? Which year? And how and where was that record recorded?
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:00PM (#42145365) Journal

    Seriously, the social security problem is easily solved by actually making the wealthy pay their proportionate share of the taxes. It isn't even a significant factor compared to the effects of uncontrolled population growth on the human race.

    Our population is far too high as is and it going shrinking some isn't a bad thing. Just because we've been planning for overcrowding, increasing resource usage, etc doesn't mean should not demand that our population continue it's horrible growth increase to fulfill our fears.

    People often like to claim that humans consume without bounds and replicate until all resources are used up and will eventually move on. A stop in population growth would indicate an equilibrium with our environment and disappoint them. Is that really so bad?

  • by jjo ( 62046 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:04PM (#42145437) Homepage

    Why do you assume immigrants must be illegal? The law should allow the amount of legal immigration we need, and the immigrants that will help our country grow. Immigration is vital to our economy now, and will become more so as the population ages.

    Young, vital, driven immigrants are just the sort of people we need, yet nativist know-nothings act as if immigrants are a blight, not paying taxes or contributing anything to the economy. If we shut off immigration, as the xenophobic fringe demands, we will look like Japan soon, with an aging population and not enough young people to support them.

    The USA was built by immigrants. It would be the height of folly to excessively limit immigration now when we most need it.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:05PM (#42145457)

    However, it's the lowest it's been in 90 years. The US birthrate was very high before the 20th century. The population was relatively small, most people were farmers, and needed all those kids. My mother is 83 and the baby of the family, and she has three brothers and six sisters. Back then, that was normal. before 1900 the average family was even bigger.

    This is only a record low for most of our lifetimes.

    I'm confused, you claim this isn't a record low because it used to be much much higher 100+ years ago? Your post honestly doesn't make any sense to me. This really is almost certainly a low for the US, since as you yourself point out, before the advent of modern medicine and technology, many women would have 5+ children. They needed to: not only was the help around the farm vital to succeed, but with the death rate being so high, especially among infants, the population could only stay steady if everyone who could had a lot of kids.

    Also, I should point out that it is a record low, quite literally: it's the lowest on record, which by definition is a "record low". It may or may not be the lowest ever for the US, but it quite likely is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:07PM (#42145475)

    Playing with nieces and nephews can be a lot of fun, but there is no feeling comparable to the joy of raising your own child.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:11PM (#42145545) Homepage Journal

    They would always comment about how, when couples back-in-the-day got married, the first thing on their list of wants was children. Now, the list of wants usually starts with a house, two cars, living in a nice neighborhood, better insurance, a bigger TV, a good living room set... One's take on the matter: "America's so selfish nowadays it doesn't deserve children."

    I suppose "One's" never stopped to consider that maybe those Americans who make fiscal security a priority over popping out offspring do so for the benefit of said potential offspring.

    Sure, the wife and I could have had kids as soon as we got married - and those kids would have grown up in abject poverty as a result. Instead, we decided to focus on getting financially stable first, so any children we do end up having get a better start than either of us did.

    Sounds to me like "One's" is the person who doesn't deserve to procreate.

  • Re:OK, so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:18PM (#42145675)

    Stop your whining. It was your generation in power that decided that starting multiple wars, deregulating the financial system, and then cutting taxes at the same time was a good idea. Your generation doesn't deserve shit for retirement compared to how your generation looted and pillaged the country thinking that your kids would clean it up.

  • by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:19PM (#42145695)

    The world's population doesn't need to be as big as it is now. There are benefits to large populations (certain cultural output that can be replicated cheaply scales almost perfectly with population), but there are also downsides (natural resources must be divided). Exponential growth must eventually hit a limit, and presumably there is some optimal range for population. Why does everybody always assume that it's "what we have now, forever", for every value of now ever?

    Anyway, I don't think the United States population is even on a decline, even with a 1.9 birthrate, because of immigration. []
    (How is it selfish to not have children until you live in a nice neighbourhood with good insurance and creature comforts? Why isn't it considered selfish to have the kid first and then have to scramble to provide for it?)

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:19PM (#42145697)

    This is not a critique of you, I don't know you or your situation personally so obviously I cannot and will not judge, but:

    This is a kind of selfishness. You indicate that you think of having children entirely around how it would impact you, personally, and what you want. The problem with this is that having children is fundamentally not about you. It's about the potential children you could have, and about their well-being and prosperity, even if it is extremely costly and a tremendous sacrifice to you personally, and at a slightly higher level the economic and demographic well being of the country, which relies on a steady stream of young people to work and produce for society, and of course at the highest level it is simply about the continuation of the species and making sure humanity survives and prospers. That is why animals, all animals (humans included) have children. It isn't for your own pleasure or well-being, although I should point out that having kids actually does make you live longer, and happier, and in the long term more stably, since you have children to support and help you once you grow old.

    The mindset you exhibit is extremely common. 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. That attitude will destroy the country in which it becomes widespread, almost inevitably (hell, it's part of what destroyed Rome all those years ago).

  • by xs650 ( 741277 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:19PM (#42145701)
    Overpopulation is a problem that is getting worse, the selfish ones are the ones that have lots of children.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:20PM (#42145727)

    I do remember many times seeing the reports of how over-population was going to put such stresses on resources that it would be catastrophic to the globe. Well, looks like the problem has been solved. Yes it will be painful for a moment in time, but once population stabilizes, or even falls, there will be more for folks.

    So over-population and global warming aren't intertwined at all? Carbon emissions are only half the problem. The other half is ALL THE FREAKING PEOPLE using the technologies which emit carbon!

  • Re:PANIC! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:24PM (#42145807) Homepage Journal

    Seriously? This is an issue?

    It's an economic bubble. Our country is based on debt, which is based on inflation, which is based on population expansion. More hands out means more hands to put money into which means more debt which means more money in the money system which means you can keep collecting interest. Issued debt grows and grows, but work gets done.

    Now when people start working their way out of debt and paying on assets, stop taking loans, etc, that fails. Stop taking mortgages? Credit crunch, recession, depression. Stop taking student loans? Credit crunch. With a credit crunch, we don't have as much money in the system. That means less money flowing around to pay off loans, making it harder for people to get high-paying jobs to pay down their debt, meaning defaults on debt, meaning people are foreclosed on and banks are left with worthless assets and lose money. Loss of money means the federal government doesn't get paid back, and banks fold, and the taxes go up--or the banks raise interest rates and add fees to take more money away from people. Economic damage.

    The whole system is based on population expansion. More population, more credit issue, more debt, more money flow. Stable population means suddenly a lot of things don't work. Thing is the population is basically an economic bubble--it grows, it shrinks. It can't grow and grow and grow any more than the spot price of AAPL.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:28PM (#42145861) Journal

    You titled your post "Why I'm not having kids" and the only reason I can tell from your post is that you don't want them.

    Which is a perfectly valid reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:32PM (#42145917)

    I say this as someone who just had a child, but I think those who have children do it out of selfishness, too. You want to be the one to improve the world and help humanity (and make yourself feel good about yourself and boost your ego), so you do it by having a child. There is also the even more selfish ones who do it out of longing to have a family, the joys of parenthood, and maybe even so they hopefully have someone to take care of you.

    Most people have selfish reasons for their decisions, that is just human nature (as is altruism).

  • by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:47PM (#42146195)

    And if its not, you can't change your mind.

    I'm not going to risk it.

  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:47PM (#42146203)

    Its not really a catch-22.

    Everything the Republicans were telling you about immigration before the election was a lie...

    Immigration leads to job growth and economic expansion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146233)

    The old generation mentality is wrong. We are not an agrarian society anymore. Cities are overcrowded as it is.

    I am not having kids, and here are my reasons:

    1: The US's best days are in the past. I don't want to give a kid a life in a country where the only future he has to look forward to is either a worker overseas, a minimum wage slave, or (God forbid) another inmate in a private prison. After the older generations took their stuff [1] and companies have moved their wealth to BRIC countries. Banks won't lend, businesses can't get any loans, so there isn't much other than memories of past times left.

    2: Location. Unless I wanted to raise someone up horribly, I would have to move to a suburban area. Urban areas are places where kids become either victims, or see Jack Gangbanger as the example of what they want to be. In fact, you actually have to either home-school, or find a good private school if you want kids to have any hope of competing with people from abroad. Public schools in the US only teach "consume, comply, and cuff up".

    3: Environmentalism. People preach being "eco" by driving an underpowered hybrid car. Not having kids does a lot more for the environment.

    [1]: Amuses me when the older guys say the younger generation doesn't work hard. I'm seeing people hold down three jobs just to try to keep a roof over their heads, and what was once a need to get anywhere, going to college, doesn't mean shit.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#42146247) Homepage

    Most white people in the USA are illegal immigrants. Just ask any American Indian.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:56PM (#42146373)

    Having children just to sustain the US is selfishness (and ultimately unsustainable). Having children to support you once you get old is even more so. Having children if you don't want them, is stupidness. Most people have children because they are supposed to, just like animals. Actually choosing to have or have not children seems thoughtful. That you disagree, and call it selfish, is thoughtless.

  • Re:OK, so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:01PM (#42146461) Journal

    There is no actual money in the SS Trust fund. Reagan took a bit of it, Clinton took most of it, and Bush Jr finished it off. There's only an IOU there with no economic value.

    This can be hard to understand: why is it bad that there's one kind of bond there instead of another? Here's a very close analgy to explain. Let's say you had good retirement savings in your 401K. But then you borrowed the entire amount for some emergency. There's *still* a financial instrument in your 401K - the record of the loan you made to yourself! But that loan has no economic value - at this point each dollar that you want in retirement you have to first put back in. You've got nothing to retire on - as you would expect, given you've already spent it.

    We already spent the SS trust fund, sorry about that, but I'm sure the Baby Boomers enjoyed it and will be very sand when their grandkids have nothing. "Oops, our bad".

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:07PM (#42146561) Journal

    Illegal immigration is the vast majority of current immigration. No need to assume, when you can measure.

    However, most immigrants, illegal or otherwise, pay Social Security taxes! It's amazing how often that's overlooked in debate. The number of cash-only dayjob workers is statistically small, and most immigrants (legal or otherwise) have some social security number associated with their job! Given that social security is the primary tax most people pay these days, the notion of the "illegal working tax-free" is unfounded.

  • by conspirator23 ( 207097 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:25PM (#42146819)
    1. Advanced material wealth and higher education suppress birth rates.
    2. Advanced material wealth and higher education attract immigrants.
    3. Emigrating is difficult under the best and most legal circumstances. Therefore, immigrants tend to be more ambitious and harder working than average.
    4. Consequently, immigrants can supplement native birth in broadening the economic base, while simultaneously adding economic dynamism via their own ambition and the more generalized effects of cultural diffusion.
    5. Profit!!!
    6. GOTO 1.
  • by GreggBz ( 777373 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:34PM (#42146949) Homepage

    As a father of an unplanned daughter, who at one point thought a lot like you, I can tell you that there's simply no practical reason to have kids. It's purely emotional. That being said, It's hard to put into words why you might want to have kids, but I'll try.

    There's the times when I pick her up at daycare, and she runs into my arms and says "daddy daddy!" That just makes any bad day better. :-)

    Other times, I get to thinking how maybe she'll get married one day, or have her own baby. I imagine when that time comes, I'll look at her and feel something like I felt when I held her right after she was born. I'll think how she's just this little girl that we brought to life, that we gave a chance to. When I get time to think of it, I'm deeply fufilled in knowing that my wife and I brought someone into this world. That we gave someone else a chance to know what life is all about, begining to end.

    At night, when she's not doing well or is sick, and calls for us, it's an overwhelming feeling of dependance, of importance. It's not replicated anywhere else in my personal or professional life. The notion that someone else's life depends entirely on us, gives me a sort of peace and direction I never otherwise had.

    Don't get me wrong. Having kids is hard, sleepless, exhausting work. No one tells you how hard it really can be. But, you know, I just started to embrace the challenge. And I realized it's the most important thing I'll ever accomplish. It's very hard to describe how that feels.

    Personally, I would'nt have it any other way.

  • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @04:53PM (#42147209) Homepage Journal
    The bar for legal US immigration is low and it is intentionally made easy to immigrate.....They essentially bypassed taking a couple days to learn the Constitution and a basic English test and an oath of loyalty to the US.

    If the bar is that low, then why are people coming here illegally? Perhaps you are buying into some sort of illusion of how easy it is to get in, because based on the number of people sneaking in, I don't buy it. You do realize that sneaking in isn't easy or safe, right? Why would anyone sneak in if getting in legitimately is really that simple? I call bullshit....

    People who have a problem with those requirements aren't our kind of people.

    You know, I actually would welcome those people. Because to sneak in, you have to deal with possibly dangerous characters, risk injury, imprisonment, or even death sneaking across miles of desert. Anyone who wants freedom that badly is OK in my book. These are the people who will appreciate its value, because they had to earn it. The people I don't think we need are the lazy, self-centered assholes already here who expect that freedom is safe, easy, and free.
  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:17PM (#42148497)
    No, they haven't been wrong - we've already fought our first major modern war over food, that was World War 2.

    Shortly after that was the green revolution, which drastically increased crop yields and has allowed us to put off the next war for a long while. Ten billion people is unsustainable though, or at least it is as long as certain selfish countries keep insisting on dragging themselves out of poverty.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.