Thursday, December 11, 2014

American Fertility Reaches New Low

          Live Science reports:
The U.S. birth rate reached an all-time low in 2013, as the number of babies born in the country declined for the sixth straight year since the peak in 2007, a new report finds.
The country's birth rate dipped to 62.5 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 44, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That is 10 percent lower than the birth rate in 2007, which was 69.3 per 1,000 women, and a record low since the government started tracking birth rates in 1909, when birth rate was 126.8.
The real question is why the lower birth rates, and whether this is a long-term trend or only temporary.

          Although some researchers are candid enough to admit that they don't know the real reason for the continued decline, the recent plunge in birth rates is generally linked to the financial crises and recession. This Wall Street Journal article from 2012 reports:
 A steep decline in births among immigrant women hard hit by the recent recession is the driving force behind the record low U.S. birthrate, according to the Pew Research Center. 
The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in the U.S. from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. The U.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%. 
... The U.S. birthrate has declined during major economic crises in the past, including the Great Depression in the 1930s and the oil shock of the 1970s. Birthrates, which have reliable records dating back to 1920, have historically bounced back after economic conditions improved. 
Over the long term, nations tend to see their birthrates decline as they become more prosperous, a trend that can threaten that prosperity. When low fertility is coupled with low mortality, the result is an aging society with a high proportion of elderly people and relatively fewer workers to support them, a situation that Japan and many European countries face. Overall U.S. fertility has remained around the replacement level, owing to the large number of immigrants it attracts. 
The total fertility rate in 2012 is estimated at 1.39 children per woman in Japan and 1.40 in Italy, compared with 2.06 in the U.S., according to the Central Intelligence Agency, which compiles world data.
This May 2014 article from CBC News still focuses on tight finances as the reason for an overall global decline in births. It states:
The drop in birth rates is rooted in the 1960s, when many women entered the workforce for the first time and couples decided to have smaller families. Births did begin rising in many countries in the new millennium. But then the financial crisis struck. Stocks and home values plummeted, blowing a hole in household finances, and tens of millions of people lost jobs. Many couples delayed having children or decided to have none at all. 
Couples in the world's five biggest developed economies — the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom — had 350,000 fewer babies in 2012 than in 2008, a drop of nearly 5 per cent. The United Nations forecasts that women in those countries will have an average 1.7 children in their lifetimes. Demographers say the fertility rate needs to reach 2.1 just to replace people dying and keep populations constant.
 And now, reporting on this most recent CDC report, the New York Times likewise blames the economy:
According to the report, the general fertility rate in the United States — the average number of babies women from 15 to 44 bear over their lifetime — dropped to a record low last year, to 1.86 babies, well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population. For every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, there were 62.5 births in 2013, compared with 63 the previous year. 
The decline is especially notable because the number of women in their prime childbearing years, 20 to 39, has been growing since 2007. 
Some demographers said the numbers were not cause for concern. 
“Americans haven’t worried much about birthrates in the past, because we have the faucet of immigration to turn on and off,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a bigger problem in Europe, where countries like Germany and Spain have much lower rates. And even at 1.8, we’re in the ballpark with the highest rates in Europe.” 
American women’s rates of childlessness, he said, will probably become comparable to those of the Great Depression, when about one-fifth of women did not have children.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, also related the fertility rates to the economy.
“On just about every demographic indicator involving young adults, whether it’s marriage, buying a home or delaying childbearing, it’s all been on hold since the beginning of the recession,” he said. “I think it’ll come back up, and each time new numbers are coming out, I think maybe this will be the moment.”
The economy may have exacerbated a decline, and it is possible that the decline would rebound slightly if the economy were to improve, but I don't think we will see it rise back to 2.1--in fact, I would be surprised if it rose above 1.9 even if the economy had a strong rebound.

There are several factors in play here. Fertility rates have been falling for a long time in the United States, mirroring similar declines in Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations. In 1800, the average woman bore 7 children during her lifetime; in 1900, fertility had fallen to 4 children per woman; and to about 2 per woman in 2000. There are probably multiple reasons for the decline, but as David Goldman notes in How Civilizations Die, "[i]n the industrial world today, a prospective child has to compete against material pleasures, and the child is losing the competition." In other words, children are no longer a necessity, but a luxury.

Related to this is that more women are choosing to postpone having children, and that means having fewer children or none at all. It isn't just that a woman's fertility declines (although that is an issue), but the financial wherewithal also declines. Goldman notes that families go into debt to have and raise children, and so the later that a couple starts a family, the less time they have to pay off that debt and begin saving for retirement. Many woman delay having children to accomodate college or a career. (See also here).

You will notice that I said that "women are choosing to postpone having children." That is typically how the issue is framed in the media because of the inherent bias toward woman having sole control over when to have children. I used the phrase deliberately because it represents a factor that is rarely discussed: that men are losing interest in relationships. Although the U.S. is behind this trend as well, it is becoming well established in other industrial nations. In examining Japan's dramatic demographic collapse (it is expected to lose 1/3 of its population within the next 50 years), a surprising fact turned up--young Japanese are not interested in sex. A third of Japanese men under 40 have never dated a woman45 percent of Japanese women and 25 percent of men, ages 16 to 24, are "not interested in or despised sexual contact"; and 49 percent of unmarried women and 61 of unmarried men, ages 18 to 34, are not in any kind of romantic relationship. In the U.K., fewer than 1.5% of men under 25 are married; and less than half of adults are married. It would be easy to suggest that this is an issue with women, but while women control the intimacy in a relationship, men control commitment; and this, at heart, is largely an issue of commitment.

There is evidence that some of this is men simply giving up on a feminist world. Writing at Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos recently observed:
"In school, boys are screwed over time and again. Schools are engineered for women. In the US, they force-feed boys Ritalin like Skittles to shut them up. And while girls are favoured to fulfil quotas, men are slipping into distant second place. 
"Nobody in my generation believes they're going to get a meaningful retirement. We have a third or a quarter of the wealth previous generations had, and everyone's fleeing to higher education to stave off unemployment and poverty because there are no jobs.
"All that wouldn't be so bad if we could at least dull the pain with girls. But we're treated like paedophiles and potential rapists just for showing interest. My generation are the beautiful ones," he sighs, referring to a 1960s experiment on mice that supposedly predicted a grim future for the human race. 
After overpopulation ran out of control, the female mice in John Calhoun's "mouse universe" experiment stopped breeding, and the male mice withdrew from the company of others entirely, eating, sleeping, feeding and grooming themselves but doing little else. They had shiny coats, but empty lives. 
"The parallels are astounding," says Rupert.
* * * 
Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding. To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that's a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. Nihilistic destruction is part of their road map. 
But, for the rest of us, the sight of society breaking down, and ordinary men and women being driven into separate but equal misery, thanks to a small but highly organised group of agitators, is distressing. Particularly because, as increasing numbers of social observers are noticing, an entire generation of young people—mostly men—are being left behind in the wreckage of this social engineering project. 
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.

You can hardly blame them. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don't: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.
Some of the men he interviewed expressed fear of marriage because of divorce laws that favor women over men. He writes:
Jack Donovan, a writer based in Portland who has written several books on men and masculinity, each of which has become a cult hit, says the phenomenon is already endemic among the adult population. "I do see a lot of young men who would otherwise be dating and marrying giving up on women," he explains, "Or giving up on the idea of having a wife and family. This includes both the kind of men who would traditionally be a little awkward with women, and the kind of men who aren't awkward with women at all. 
"They've done a cost-benefit analysis and realised it is a bad deal. They know that if they invest in a marriage and children, a woman can take all of that away from them on a whim. So they use apps like Tinder and OK Cupid to find women to have protected sex with and resign themselves to being 'players,' or when they get tired of that, 'boyfriends.'" 
He goes on: "Almost all young men have attended mandatory sexual harassment and anti-rape seminars, and they know that they can be fired, expelled or arrested based more or less on the word of any woman. They know they are basically guilty until proven innocent in most situations."
The result is that rather than being a rewarding experience, marriage increasingly makes men feel trappedMen see fewer positives to marriage in almost any aspect, whether it be sex, money, or socializing. Not surprisingly, a Pew Research study that was released last year showed that among American young adults, 27% of men say they do not want to get married versus only 8% of women.

Because of the foregoing, having children has become an act of faith--literally. Demographers have noticed that the religious have more children than those of little or no religious faith. (See here and here, for instance).

The thesis of Goldman's book is that birth rates below replacement demonstrate a society or civilization that is dying. Dying societies may act unpredictably--faced with no future, they are more willing to take risks. And the problem is that most countries are facing rapid declines in population in the coming decades, and all countries will have declining populations after the mid-century. Declining birth rates will lead to international instability and war.

Related Posts: America's Demographic CliffDemographic Winter Hits U.S.; Demographic Decline in the U.S.; Putin is the Sane OneJapan's Population Continues to DeclineLoss of Faith in the Future Behind Iran's Falling Birthrates?The Far East's Demographic DeclineLack of Babies Could Mean End of JapaneseSlate: "World Population May Actually Start Declining..." More On Declining Birth Rates in the U.S.; "Demographic Winter"; "The Single Nation".

Related Links: "The Role of Infanticide and Abortion in Pagan Rome's Decline"; "No Babies? Declining Population in Europe"; "Empty Cradles, Demographic Destiny, and the Death of the West"; "What's Really Behind Europe's Decline? It's The Birth Rates, Stupid".

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