In 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?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate