Newsweek: Where have all the Babies Gone?

cute babyIn this week’s issue of Newsweek, Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel write about the declining U.S. birthrate.  The interesting article states that young adults, especially those living in highly populated cities, are opting to forgo parenthood.  They’ve come to the conclusion that becoming a parent just isn’t for them.  America’s birthrate has declined since the 2008 financial crisis.

That downturn has put the U.S. fertility rate increasingly in line with those in other developed economies—suggesting that even if the economy rebounds, the birthrate may not. For many individual women considering their own lives and careers, children have become a choice, rather than an inevitable milestone—and one that comes with more costs than benefits.

Many young adults don’t think the economy is stable enough to have children.  According to a Pew study, 46% of Americans believe that the rising number of women without children “makes no difference one way or another” to our society.  This new attitude may become problematic.  Japan is probably in the worse condition.  There are currently more people over 65 years of age then there are those younger than 15.  By 2050, it is projected that there will be more octogenarians than teenagers.

Japan’s problems also are evident in the desexualized of their youth.  A third of young men ages 16 to 19 express “no interest” in sex; while 60% of their female counterparts express the same sentiment.  Europe’s birthrate is also lagging.  Many German women are happy not having children.  In America, 44% of millennials (me) agree that marriage is becoming “obsolete” (not me).  Among those who support getting married, just 41% say children are important for a marriage (down from 65% in 1990).

Many major cities across the U.S. are seeing vast declines in births.  Seattle residents now have more dogs than babies.  The birthrate amongst conservatives in this country has remained stagnant and thus in conjunction with a declining birthrate from liberal parents may shift the country to the right, at least politically speaking.  Can you imagine New York City as a conservative city?  The trend shows that it will happen.

This prospect would pose dangers to our society as a whole, and singletons in particular, including a potential reversion to a more rigidly traditionalist worldview. But perhaps most damaging would be declining markets and a hobbled economy in which governments are forced to tax the shrinking workforce to pay for the soaring retirement and health expenses of an increasingly doddering population; this is already occurring in Germany and Japan. Almost 14 million Americans are projected to have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, according to the journal Neurology, with a cost of care that experts say could exceed $1 trillion. Less tangible may be the cultural and innovative torpidity of a country dominated by the elderly.

I think the declining birthrate is a direct consequence of our financial situation.  I actually applaud it when people know they don’t want children and thus decide to not have them.  I applaud them because there are so many children in the world that aren’t wanted.  Children should never be seen as a burden.

Are you concerned?

Email: realtalkdebate2012@gmail.com

Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate

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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

4 responses to “Newsweek: Where have all the Babies Gone?”

  1. JF Owen says :

    Sure I am. I’m old enough that I’ll surely be gone long before the problem reaches a point of critical mass. My children and grandchildren, however, are directly in the cross hairs.

    This is a problem that has many subtle nuances. For example, we’re already starting to experience a dearth of talent in the STEM fields (science, technical, engineering and math) A strong argument can be made that if humans are going to survive long term as a species, it’s going to be science and technology that plow the road.

    While the article didn’t deep dive into the demographic data, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the men and women who were less likely to want children were also the most educated individuals in the subject group. Those are also precisely the individuals most likely to produce children who would be attracted to STEM fields. Whatever the population drop, it’s effects will be more severe if scientists and engineers take a disproportional hit.

    Past that, the article makes a number of important points with regards to economic and workforce stability. To some degree, human population growth is nature’s version of a ponzi scheme. Without a constant influx of replacement consumers AND producers, the pyramid collapses. The only way to avoid that would be through an precisely planned program of gradual population reduction. I don’t think most human cultures are amenable to yielding to that level of control. It kind of reminds me of Logan’s Run or AEon Flux.

    On another level, maybe this is just the human version of a lemming run towards the sea. The few that survive have an opportunity to start over and do it better the next time. Whether that’s here on Earth or somewhere else we call a new home is conjecture. Hmmm, that might be an good idea for a novel.

  2. reasoningpolitics says :

    I read a Fareed Zakaria piece maybe a year or two ago that showed how America, with its ability to absorb immigrants more effectively than European countries, is far less screwed than they are.

    Immigrants have more children, at least for one or two generations.

  3. realtalkrealdebate says :

    not sure how I missed this comment. This article addressed that topic. Hispanics represent a large immigrant population. However their birthrate of about 7 children per family has evened out about 2. Yes, after a generation or two they have less children.

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