“As 2017 drew to a close, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) urged Americans to have more children,” as The Washington Post is reporting. “To keep the country great, he said, we’re “going to need more people.”
“’I did my part,’ the father of three declared.
“Ryan’s remarks drew some eye rolls at the time, but as new data about the country’s collapsing fertility rates has emerged, concern has deepened over what’s causing the changes, whether it constitutes a crisis that will fundamentally change the demographic trajectory of the country — and what should be done about it.
“Women are now having fewer babies and at older ages than in the past three decades, a change that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported this year, and which was confirmed this week with the release of additional data that shows that the trend holds across races and for urban and rural areas.
“The CDC said Wednesday that the total fertility rate — a theoretical figure that estimates the number of births a woman will have in her lifetime — fell by 18 percent from 2007 to 2017 in large metropolitan areas, 16 percent in smaller metro areas and 12 percent in rural areas. A similar downward trend holds for white, black and Hispanic women.
“Fertility and birthrates are among the most closely monitored indicators of a country’s economic health. When too high, a surging youth population might be unable to find work and become susceptible to unrest. When too low, economies can rapidly contract, and a small working-age population has to support a large retired population. The United States is somewhat more buffered because of its relatively high levels of immigration, but if the decline in fertility continues, demographers say, the country may face an extreme population imbalance in the future.
“Theories — social, economic, scientific, environmental — about why fertility is falling so sharply in the United States abound. Many agree that cultural shifts, such as women getting married later and focusing on education or work, play a big role. But there’s considerable debate, some of it more political than evidence-based, about other possible causes.
“Economist Lyman Stone has blamed the United States’ less-than-generous parental leave and pay policies. Human Life International, a missionary group, blames ‘pro-abortion population control groups like Planned Parenthood.’ Tucker Carlson claims it has to do with immigration, arguing that immigrants drive wages down, which hurts the attractiveness of men as potential spouses — ‘thus reducing fertility.’
The rest of the article is here.