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Timothy Carney

Timothy Carney, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

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Opinion

America’s baby bust portends tough times ahead

Mar 7

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In 2007, Americans welcomed approximately 4.3 million babies. But following a decline in birth rates during the Great Recession, birth rates have not recovered. Over the past 15 years, the number of U.S. births has decreased annually, with the most recent 12-month period on record indicating only 3.6 million babies born.

Straight Arrow News contributor Tim Carney asserts that the United States is currently in the midst of a baby bust and suggests that the situation may be worsening. He highlights the consequences of the country’s declining birth rate and attributes the issue to cultural factors within American society.

But more importantly, fewer people will simply be doing productive work. This will mean longer wait times, lower quality, and higher prices. Your retirement savings don’t do you any good if nobody can come to fix your leaky pipe.

There’s a bigger reason the baby bust is bad news. Americans still want babies. In Gallup’s latest poll, the average American said that 2.7 was the ideal number of children. We are an entire baby below that. All of this reflects that something is wrong with America and with the other countries where birth rates are low and falling.

It’s not a simple economic story. Birth rates were higher during the recession than they were in 2019 when we had full employment, low inflation, and a record-high stock market. And richer people don’t have more babies than the middle class does. And millennials aren’t poorer than Gen X or the baby boomers were. The problem with America is our culture. Ours is a family-unfriendly culture. Parenting culture is too intensive. Mating and dating culture is broken. And our culture doesn’t support parents enough.

The good news is that we can turn our culture around. It won’t be easy or quick, but it will be necessary if we’re ever going to climb out of our baby bust.

America is in the middle of a baby bust. And things may be getting worse. In 2006 In 2007, Americans had about 4.3 million babies. Newspapers, we’re calling it a baby boomlet and the millennials, a massive generation, we’re just entering their prime years for starting families. But then the great recession hit and the birth rate fell. But then the great recession ended and the birth rate never rebounded. For more than a decade and a half, America has had fewer and fewer babies nearly every year. The birth rate fell below 1.7 Babies per woman in 2019. And it’s still down there. Now, in the most recent 12 months on record, we’ve had only 3.6 million babies. That’s down 15% from 2008. One result is that we now have fewer children in America than we did at the last census. We have more adults in their 60s than we have children under age 10. elementary schools and middle schools around the country have been closing as a number of school aged kids drops. The baby bust is hitting high schools now. Colleges are preparing for it. Our working age population has already flatlined because of lukewarm birth rates back before the recession and a flood of baby boomer retirements. The rapidly growing retiree population will combined with a flat and then shrinking working age population to throw our economy out of whack. Social Security and Medicare will be strained even further as the dependency ratio climbs. But more importantly, we will simply have fewer people doing productive work. This will mean longer wait times lower quality and higher prices. Your retirement savings don’t do you any good. If nobody can come to fix your leaky pipe. There’s a bigger reason the baby bust is bad news. Americans still want babies in Gallup’s latest poll. The average American said that 2.7 was the ideal number of children. We are an entire baby below that all of this reflects that something is wrong with America and with the other countries were birth rates are low and falling. It’s not a simple economic story. Birth rates were higher during the recession than they were in 2019. When we have full employment, low inflation, and a record high stock market, and richer people don’t have more babies in the middle class does. And millennials aren’t poor than Gen X or the baby boomers were. The problem with America is our culture. Ours is a family unfriendly culture. Parenting culture is too intensive. Mating and dating culture is broken. And our culture doesn’t support parents enough. The good news is that we can turn our culture around. It won’t be easy or quick. But it will be necessary if you’re ever going to climb out of our baby bust

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