Tag archives: Fertility Rates

Downgrading American Fertility

by Family Research Council

December 5, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in theU.S.from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. TheU.S.birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957.

Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S.population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23% (emphasis added).

The article goes on to note that the United States has seen a slowdown in Mexican immigration, and that, though immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the total population, they comprise a relatively large share of total number of children born, because immigrant women are more likely to be of childbearing age.

The authors also note that dips in the American economy are accompanied by dips in the birthrate, and as the economy begins to recover, so does the birthrate. However, if our economy is to sustain itself and grow, and “if a society is to continue, stable fertile marriage is necessary,” as Henry Potrykus and Patrick Fagan note in the Marriage and Religion Research Institute publication Marriage, Contraception and The Future of Western Peoples.

Ross Douthat writes of the drop in the birth rate:

The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.

The Devil is in the (Demographic) Details

by Family Research Council

August 5, 2011

Despite critiques of the U.N.s world population predictions, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Jonathan Last could have gone even further in pointing out how bleak the developed worlds demographic picture is.

This past May, the U.N. released its latest report on world demographics, saying that Italy, Poland, and the European Continent as a whole, have rosy demographic futures. Last correctly takes issue with these predictions saying that in order for the world to actually achieve the U.N.s projected numbers, one big assumption had to be made, that starting tomorrow, every country in the world with fertility below the replacement rate of 2.1 will increase its fertility. And this rise will continue unabated, year after year, until every First World country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) near replacement.

Mr. Last reasons that this projection is dubious, in part because the U.N.s model was based on data taken from a small group of mostly Scandinavian countries that have recovered (sort of) from sub replacement fertility. Last highlights Sweden, saying that its story is a complicated one, involving pro-natalist policies, culture and not a little luck, though somehow, the U.N. now assumes that all low-fertility, industrialized countries from Russia to Italy to South Korea will follow this same pattern.

While Last does highlight the dubious nature of the U.N.s projections, he has not gone far enough in emphasizing exactly how incorrect they are. His suspicion was correct that other countries will not necessarily follow Scandinavias supposed trend. Though it (reportedly) experienced positive fertility results, even if Swedens success were based on culture and policies, these are not universal. However, the fact of the matter is that any projection made based off the success of these countries will be incorrect.

Focusing on Sweden, the story of their fertility rates must be nuanced to differentiate between the fertility of nationals and the fertility of foreigners (immigrants). According to the Vienna Institute of Demographics, from 1986-2008, the increase in the total fertility rate of Swedens nationals went from 1.76 to 1.85, a difference that is statistically insignificant, and is actually because the dip to 1.76 in 1986 was a TFR underestimate! The total fertility rate of foreigners ranged from 2.24 (1986) to 2.55 (2008)a range that is above both the replacement level, as well as the level of Swedish nationals. Any increase in Swedish fertility levels must be understood with this division in mind, with the result that Sweden would not experience population increases of its young for any reason other than immigration. This casts the U.N.s model into question, as immigration is not a true account for the increase in a countrys fertility. Furthermore, immigration depends strongly on (relative) economic factors, something that varies between countries and is difficult to predict.

Additionally, we all know that Rome was not built in a dayit takes around 20 years before our newborns are ready to enter society as adults, and cultures change about as fast. Why then should the U.N. anticipate that Italy, Poland, Japan or any country would change over night? There is no reason to suspect that we will see a drastic positive change in the fertility habits of individuals and thus, nations any time soon. On the contrary, anti-natal trends are alive and well in the West, cultures are spawning no-kids-allowed movements: Malaysia airlines banned babies from many of their first-class cabins; McDains Restaurant, in Pennsylvania no longer allows children under 6 to dine; Double Windsor bar in New York bans babies after 5 p.m.; a Central Florida homeowners association is considering a ban on children from playing outside, and the examples continue. All of this is strong indication that the trend were seeing, and one modeled by more serious demographers than those at the U.N., is here to stay.

We are still slouching into a demographic crisis, and Last is right to highlight economic concerns that will spin off from low fertility rates.

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