US Birth Rate Declines for Fourth Straight Year
Paul Ehrlich’s population bomb was patently wrong in its prediction of a world brimming with humans until, eventually, a critical threshold was reached and crisis decimated human numbers. Or, perhaps the techniques used to avoid a “population bomb” are working. For the fourth year in a row, US births have fallen, according to a government report released Wednesday writes the Chicago Tribune. The decline in 2011 was 1 percent, compared to the sharper 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years. ”It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end,” said Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization. The new report demonstrated a steep decline in the Hispanic birth rate and a new low in teen births. That Hispanic birth rates have declined so steeply is a testament to the way in which US “minorities” have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy. Teen birth rates have been declining for 20 years. The report comes as more than 50% of US citizens sit at or below the poverty threshold.
Births in the US had been on the rise since the late 1990s, hitting an all-time high of 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year, the lowest number since 1998. Many see the flagging economy as the primary explanation for the phenomenon, although likely family planning programs and info wars about overpopulation and the environment have contributed to the trend. After all, even the cool kids care about the environment:
But, the economic crisis certainly seems a fitting birth-depressant, as women and couples out of work or underemployed acknowledge that they barely have enough money to keep themselves going, let alone a new family. If the assumption is accepted, that the economic crisis is one of the main reasons for the decreased birth rates, then the “recession” – which officially lasted from December 2007-June 2009 – is still underway. Well in 2011, most US citizens are gloomy on the economy, citing difficulty of getting jobs and the soft housing market.
Compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report is the first of its kind on 2011 birth certificate data from state health departments. Although the numbers will be analyzed by “experts” for some time to come, the numbers wont change much. The birth rate for single women fell for the third straight year, dropping by 3 percent from 2010 -2011. The birth rate for married women rose 1 percent. For Hispanic women, the birth rate dropped a staggering 6 percent, but only declined 2 percent for black women. For white women, the figure remained the same, while it rose for Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. The birth rates fell for women in their early 20s, down 5 percent from 2010, marking the lowest figure for women in that age group since 1940, despite that the population is more than twice the size it was in 1940.
For women in their early 30s, birth rates stayed virtually the same, and increased for women 35 and older. This could be due to women having stabler jobs and/or financial security, as well as being more sensitive to their biological clocks. The birth rates for teens have hit an historic low, and continue their fall from 1991. The number of teen births last year was the fewest in a single year since 1946. The teen birth rate fell 8 percent, and at 31 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19 was the lowest record in more than seven decades. ”The continued decline in the teen birth rates is astounding,” said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.
The newest birth report also showcased a fourth straight decline in a calculation of the number of children women are having over their lifetimes, based on the birth rates of a given year. A rate of a little more than 2 children per woman means each couple is helping keep the population stable. The US rate last year was slightly below 1.9. Countries with low and declining birth rates face uncertain futures, as a smaller population will be forced to take care of an aging, much larger population. Countries with rates close to 1 – like Japan and Italy – suffer future labor shortages and an eroding tax base as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of obligations and the aging population.
In 2011, the baby boomers will start to turn 65. While today 40 million people in the US are ages 65 and older, the number is projected to more than double to 89 million by 2050. Over one-fifth of the population over 65, in 2050, is expected to be 85 years and older.