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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 Pollux ( 102520 ) <> on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:53PM (#42145221) 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."

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:59PM (#42145331) Journal
    My husband and I agreed not to have kids. By all rights we're in the sweet spot for it - young professionals, good careers ahead, own our house, etc. But.... I just don't see the need for it. We have his nieces and nephew any time we get the urge to play with kids or hold a baby. We have tons of friends with kids who are super glad to have us watch their rugrats for a night.

    And let's not get into how expensive children are, or how hostile work environments are to parents of either sex (but especially women.) I believe both parents deserve equal maternity/paternity leave and for a far longer period than most employers are willing to give them. We'd have to both be comfortably working from home to even consider it.

    So, we're not quite the couple in the beginning of Idiocracy, but we're close enough.
  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:01PM (#42145381)

    This is a problem with the US economy in general - it is based on growth. Those European/Asian countries that have been around for thousands of years are more stable, and have economies based more on sustainable goods and services. One of the main economic numbers that drives the US stock market is "new housing starts" - a number based solely on having the population continually increasing. Once that slows down - and can't even be propped up by the banks fudging mortgages - the entire country is headed for a depression.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:05PM (#42145453)

    The old generation mentality is wrong, and unsustainable. lower birth rates should be encouraged. It makes for a higher standard of living for all, and a higher quality of living for all. who knows, maybe fewer people could help create more social-cohesion and community:something many people lament this era is lacking in.

    the only downside is the current social programs have been geared for continual exponential growth (more young-ens sustaining the geezers) and they look a little scary with a low to negative growth rate.

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

    by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:09PM (#42145511)

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

    ... and for less contribution. I once saw a chart someone compiled where it showed the average tax rate paid by people of each age. For example, someone born in 1950... they added up the median income for a 16-year-old in 1966, a 17-year-old in 1967, etc, to get an idea of how much money they've earned over their entire life (adjusting for inflation, of course). They then looked at how much tax they paid, on average, at each of those ages to figure out, over your lifetime, what percentage of your earnings went to the 'gummint'. What they found was that, for senior citizens, because they paid such low tax rates back before the 70's or so, their effective lifetime tax-rate was something like less than half of someone in their 20's today.

  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:11PM (#42145555)

    Another take on it is that people who are responsible, and realize how much children cost and how much investment it takes in them, wait a long time to have kids and don't have many. Having a house and a two car garage, and having them paid off is SMART, it's how you can live your life without being a slave in someone else's salt mine (and making the kinds of decisions that slaves make).

    I don't see this trend as "bad", it seems pretty good to me. We have too many people, we consume too many resources, we don't really have enough to go around for any length of time. Let the population shrink to what it needs to be given the level of technology we have available.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:12PM (#42145557)

    I suspect that people with education and stable incomes continue to have children at the already low rate that they have historically.

    That immigrants are also reducing the number of pregnancies hints that they understand the consequences and costs of raising children. Or maybe it hints that with access to free medical services (and yeah, lets not kid ourselves, for them it is free), they have managed to throw off the traditions of the third world of having many children even when living in squalor in the hopes that some of them will survive to take care of them in their old age.

    (You would sort of expect this, since anyone willing to abandon their homeland and go on a long and dangerous journey risking arrest, and sometimes life, in the hopes of improving their conditions, would seem unlikely to fall back into the trap that they left).

    Its been a long time since this country had a depression lasting 5 years, (with another 4 years on the horizon). Long enough for even the clueless to begin to understand the costs involved of feeding kids while out of work.

    So who is still having those kids? I suspect the least able to support them. Unmarried teen age girls living in poverty []. Despite nationally declining rates, teen birth rates in the United States remain persistently high, at 34.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19. And these rates are dramatically higher than in other developed countries. Twice as high as Canada.

    Also those living on public assistance, of one form or another, where having another kid means another increase in their assistance check.
    The birth rate for women 15 to 50 years old receiving public assistance income in the last 12 months was 155 births per 1,000 women, about three times the rate for women not receiving public assistance []. See page 15.

    With no skills, and no prospects, there seems to be an entire population of breeder-class individuals. And they are not necessarily the immigrants that we all thought they were.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments