Demographic Collapse: U.S. Fertility Hits All-Time Low
According to a Reason report, the total fertility rate in America dropped below 1.73 births per woman.
Ronald Bailey drew data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
This is a new record that beat out the previous nadir of 1.74 births per woman back in 1976.
These birth rates are similar to other developed countries, where fertility is also plummeting.
In the European Union’s case, the 28 members’ birth rate is 1.6 births per woman, Japan stands at 1.4, and Canada is at 1.5
According to a 2010 study, University of Connecticut anthropologists Nicola Bulled and Richard Sosis discovered that fertility falls as female life expectancy increases.
Global average life expectancy increased from 52.6 years in 1960 to 72.4 years today. On the other hand, the global total fertility rate dropped by more than half, from 5 to 2.4 births per woman.
The causes behind these birthrates are heavily disputed.
Some experts argue that lowering birth rates are a consequence of the current stage of capitalism which requires both parents to enter the workforce. Similarly, rising cost of living in major metro centers has been blamed as a factor behind people deciding to put off marriage and having children. Coupled with increasingly burdensome student loans, the prospects of starting a family seem bleak for many younger people who are financially hamstrung due to economic circumstances.
Others see this trend as a sign of a cultural decline where people prefer to live in the moment and not leave behind offspring. They cite feminism and a culture that encourages more casual sex as some of the reasons explaining declining birth rates.
We may never find out what is truly behind these trends, but policymakers should consider some solutions such as tax incentives like tax relief for couples who decide to have multiple children in order to incentivize family formation.
This is one issue where conservatives can blend low tax policy with family formation to create strong economic freedom and traditionalist coalitions.