Fear of economic blow as births drop around world


#1

NEW YORK (AP) – Nancy Strumwasser, a high school teacher from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, always thought she’d have two children. But the layoffs that swept over the U.S. economy around the time her son was born six years ago helped change her mind. Though she and her husband, a market researcher, managed to keep their jobs, she fears they won’t be so fortunate next time…

…We tend to think economic growth comes from working harder and smarter. But economists attribute up to a third of it to more people joining the workforce each year than leaving it. The result is more producing, earning and spending. Now this secret fuel of the economy, rarely missing and little noticed, is running out…

…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 percent. 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…

…- A return to “normal” growth is unlikely: Economic growth of 3 percent a year in developed countries, the average over four decades, had been considered a natural rate of expansion, sure to return once damage from the global downturn faded. But many economists argue that that pace can’t be sustained without a surge of new workers. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the U.S. economy will grow 3 percent or so in each of the next three years, then slow to an average 2.3 percent for next eight years. The main reason: Not enough new workers…

…Economists say it is rare for the number of working-age people as a share of the total population to fall in so many major countries at the same time. It’s usually because of war and famine, although such proportions also fell in the 1950s as baby boomers were born and populations surged. The six countries with declining proportions of working-age people now, plus China, accounted for 60 percent of global economic output in 2012, according to Haver Analytics, a research firm…

…Still, even optimists see the world at a delicate crossroads…

More:

hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_RECESSION_POPULATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-05-07-12-52-32


#2

We need to hope and pray and work for an increased birth rate. People also need to stop using contraception and getting abortions which are both gravely evil.

The Catholic Church has a good reason for teaching that contraception and abortion are evil and that men and women who are married must be open to procreation. If we do not remain open to procreation, it will have serious effects on society as this article demonstrates.


#3

Whatever happened to free kittens? Animal sterilization, like human contraception and abortion, has greatly reduced the number of available kittens. You cannot find kittens for free in front of the grocery store. Now you must adopt from the limited number that various agencies possess - after they have been neutered, of course. what effect this has had on the ambient mouse population remains to be seen.


#4

I agree with what you say.

However, the OP story points out the economic aspect of it, given that people CAN use contraceptives and abortion.

An interesting formulation is: Income from Labor (IL) + Income from Property (IP) = Consumption © + Transfer payments §. IL+IP=C+T. A simple formulation, but which sums up our sources and uses of resources.

Now, when government takes more of “T” involuntarily, it reduces the “T” that’s voluntary. What’s “Voluntary T”. Well, it’s money transferred to spouse, children, church, neighbor or “into the future” (savings).

And when more and more “T” is involuntary, then voluntary “T” is reduced. No mystery to it. As one looks around the developed world, one sees that the nations in which involuntary “T” is high, the birth rate is correspondingly low.

What is the lifetime cost of raising a child now? Over a quarter million, I believe if the child goes to college. And if government takes half or nearly half what one makes, then how many quarter millions can one raise in a lifetime?


#5

There is a youtube video describing this call Demographic Winter. We are in for some serious economic hardships in the coming two decades. Every single day, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire in this country. There simply isn’t enough children being born now or have been born recently to replace these people when they retire.

And it is going to get worse. Especially in certain countries. IIRC, over the next 30 years or so, the population of Russia is going decline by 50%!!!:eek::eek:

We may see the next round of Dark Ages as the western empires collapse under the weight of their own self-centeredness.


#6
  1. given that there aren’t enough jobs for the existing population, why would a couple decide this is a good time to create a baby? They are at risk of losing their job and it is questionable if their child will find one in the future.

  2. Is this to imply that our population must always expand? That doesn’t seem sustainable without quality of life issues or devastating huge areas of “unused” land with our cites and farms.


#7

Spend some time reading and researching @ The Population Research Institute “a non-profit research group whose goals are to expose the myth of overpopulation, to expose human rights abuses committed in population control programs, and to make the case that people are the world’s greatest resource. Our growing, global network of pro-life groups spans over 30 countries.”

.pop.org/


#8

Demographic Winter


#9

You will find more economic growth in areas with expanding populations than in areas of declining population. There are a lot of formerly prosperous ghost towns which simply died of lack of population.

That’s one reason I find arguments about immigration rather mystifying. In the end, immigration may be all we have to keep from dying out.


#10

The US replacement rate is 1.8, with immigration it is 2.1. 2.3 is replacement rate. Many European countries are at or below 1.3, the point where a civilization dies out.


#11

I’m not advocating for population control in the context of a government or group telling/forcing others not to have babies. But what I mean is that before creating children there is a certain level of due diligence. For many here that means marriage and a fairly stable life. It also includes a judgement about how future economics will affect a couple and the world they believe their child will encounter.

Simply put, the way to encourage more children is to somehow make them cheaper and emphasize that they are worth more than the $10k per year of stuff one can buy in their place.

I can’t deny lower birth rates are bad for economies. But our current economic models require constant growth, something that isn’t sustainable. We do not know the max population but we also can’t pretend it can grow forever.

Towns have went boom and bust for centuries as people migrate to where opportunity lay.

That’s one reason I find arguments about immigration rather mystifying. In the end, immigration may be all we have to keep from dying out.

That is a tad short sighted though. As countries advance economically raising children become more challenging. Those counties will likely see lower fertility rates too.

How do we encourage people to have more children, if you believe that’s what the world needs?


#12

It wasn’t that long ago the focus was on overpopulation. I’m thinking the 60’s and 70’s?


#13

Not that long ago these discussions on under-population only occurred on blogs and forums. I’m starting to see more articles discussing under-population.


#14

But a lot of the concerns about under-population are in regard to our system of taxing the young to pay for the benefits for the old. As with any pyramid scheme, it does indeed depend on bringing in more and more participants. But is that really what we want?

There are plenty of people in the US who are willing and able to work but find themselves under-employed or unemployed. The last thing we need in this globalized, high-tech economy is more job-seekers competing for a shrinking pool of jobs.

As much as some would like to believe otherwise, not every problem in the world can be blamed on abortion and contraception.


#15

Kids don’t cost $10k per year. And it is economically very easy to raise kids in the US compared to most of the world and most of human history. We create these fake numbers and ideas that kids are massively expensive, and people find excuses not to have kids b/c they’re too “expensive”. By the time you add up the real additional costs for kids #3+, it is very inexpensive for kids.

An extra chicken breast every night doesn’t add up to almost $1k per month. The house is already being paid, same with cars, etc. All the costs for normal living are already being expensed. Adding another child only involves the incrmental costs. Even health insurance, for most people, the rate is set at “family” rates, so there is no additional cost.


#16

College expenses are extremely high. Private school education is as well. Yes, some can get scholarships and all, but most don’t. The “financial aid” offered by colleges is almost entirely in the form of student loans. If Johnny and Suzie are wanting to form a family but, between them, owe $100,000 or more on student loans, they’re likely to defer having children. And, of course, they have to earn about $250,000 before taxes to pay those loans with after-tax dollars. Deferral oftentimes ends up being “limitation” or perhaps having no children at all.

Likely, the parents of those graduating from college today did not have a beginning burden like that.


#17

To be fair I picked a middle number, but it can easily cost between $5k to $15k+ a year by the various stuff I’ve looked into. And yes, some of it is the house in that a childless couple could opt for a smaller cheaper house. But in a way, what the numbers don’t account for is various incentives and tax policy that offset some of the cost. And yes, there probably is a bulk discount too.

But let’s be honest, the decision to create children is not based purely on logic. Instead reasons not to have kids are weighed against a harder to define urge, desire, calling, or whatever you wish to label it as that push us towards that path.


#18

I read a report by the East West Center on fertility decline in Japan (at 1.4 they have one of the lowest fertility rates in the world) and not to simplify a complex issue but the causes seem to be women postponing childbirth or forgoing it altogether in order to pursue advanced degrees and high-powered careers, as well as the perception that having children is not essential to being happy, as well as the perception that with children or not they need to have a successful career in case they divorce their husband, or even if they do not in order to pay for the quality of life amenities that ensure the child will have a happy and successful life. The authors of the report conclude that giving high-earning couples tax breaks when they have children is the best way to stem this tide of low fertility.


#19

True enough, but this one really is at root a contraception issue.

Professional demographers have LONG had consensus on a theory they call Demographic transition. It posits that the transition from rural subsistence agriculture to industrial urbanized society involves three phases:

  1. Pre-industrial rural populations have high birth rates, high mortality rates and low population growth rates.
  2. Transitional societies quickly achieve much lower mortality rates due to medicine, sanitation, education, etc. But they often retain the high birth rates via cultural traditions for several generations. Thus very high population growth rates.
  3. Mature urban industrial societies (populations whose grandparents were urban) of their own nature, tend to result in barely replacement rate fertility. This historical record goes back long BEFORE the advent of the pill or latex. Reasons are subtle, but revolve around the economic environment significantly delaying the age of marriage and the increase in costs / reduction in economic benefits of having children at home. Established urban populations (not the newcomer from the farms) in Paris, London, Boston, Vienna, etc in the late 1800’s ALREADY were showing barely replacement rate fertility among these populations. The effect here is that explosive population growth rate is NOT a normal human condition. Long term stable conditions lead to stable population rates. Only during dramatic upheavals in culture do population explosions occur.

What demographers have professionally been too afraid thus far to tackle is the (IMO obvious) effect that widespread, cheap and socially respectable contraception has on populations well into Phase 3 above. To me it is glaringly clear that the effect it has is to upset the divinely intended tension built into humanity between economic prudence and human passions in marriage to the point where in the presence of contraception, urban industrial populations will never be able to maintain themselves. Back when that tension was intact, urban populations had a 2.2 or so TFR (slightly above replacement). Now that it has been ruptured by contraception, there is not ONE country on earth where contraception is socially respectable, cheap and widely available and the native population there has enough babies to maintain itself. Not one.

The USA appeared to be an exception until recently, but really wasn’t. Ours was propped up because of the high number of babies had by immigrants from Mexico and South America. Now that THOSE places have dropped dramatically in TFR, the immigrants that come here from there no longer prop us up.

Nobody here that I can see is proposing a steadily ever increasing populations. Abolishing contraception and abortion demonstrably don’t do that. What that would do is restore a balance innate to the human condition that would bring us back to naturally occurring stable population sustaining fertility rates.

Nobody will listen, of course. People are too shallow to see that the solution to third world population growth is NOT condoms, but development. Cheaper to just toss 'em a condom and call it good. Problem solved… until the development happens anyways and NOBODY anymore has enough babies to replace the dying.


#20

Not that this contradicts anything you’re saying here, but there is also the angle that what is good for the society as a whole is not necessarily good for the individual woman who is making a decision to postpone or forgo childbirth in the name of bettering her own condition (i.e. through pursuing advanced degrees, job advancement, etc.) There’s also a shift from Phase 1 to 3 above in quantity over quality, that is, by Phase 3 parents want fewer children who will be able to benefit from more resources, rather than more children who will have fewer resources because they have to share them with siblings.


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