As U.S. fertility rates collapse, finger-pointing and blame follow

“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.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

3 thoughts on “As U.S. fertility rates collapse, finger-pointing and blame follow”

  1. Paul Ryan is an idiot- Maternity leave in this country is basically non existent.
    Italy- 10 months -an employee on maternity leave receives 80% of their remuneration for a period of 8 weeks before, and 12 weeks after, childbirth. Parental Leave in Italy a worker cannot be on leave for more than 10 months. … A single parent, for a continuous or split period of not more than 10 months. If the mother does not choose to take parental leave, she is entitled to work 6 hours only until the newborn is 12 months.

    Working moms in Germany get more than a year of paid maternity leave. … During the six weeks before and eight weeks after giving birth, women earn their full paycheck while out on maternity leave. After that, until their child is 12 months, they make 65 percent of their monthly salary, up to a cap of 1,800 euros a month.

    Japan- Guaranteed maternity leave in Japan covers a period of 6 weeks prior to the expected birth date to 8 weeks after giving birth and Child care leave applies to both female and male employees. During maternity leave, the employee salary will be covered by the social insurance up to a limit of around 2/3 of the base salary.
    No income tax or labor insurance will apply during maternity leave since the worker does not have an income.

  2. Who is Paul Ryan asking to have more kids? Working people who Ryan doesn’t give a damn about with his Republican health care policies that include “hurry up and die if you get sick”. Pre Existing conditions? Oh hell no! Ryan, the lets cut taxes for corporations and the 1%, and when it blows a bigger hole in the budget, they then say we have to cut social safety nets to pay for the transfer of wealth up to the top.
    I wonder if Paul (denial) Ryan ever looks at his kids and wonders what the climate is going to be like when they turn 50? I sure hope Paul lives a long life and is around to see it.

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