July 10, 2016

FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Joel Kotkin: The Meaning Of The Baby Bust.

Once an exception to demographic decline, our country may be falling into the dismal pattern that is now common in other high-income countries, notably in East Asia and Europe. Europe’s demographic crisis is one reason European Union officials, particularly in Germany, opened the floodgates to mass migration from the Middle East and other unstable areas. In many parts of Europe, more people are dying than are being born.

Now America may be joining the downward fertility spiral. Since the recession, the number of new children has plummeted, and it’s dropped the most precipitously for new mothers. The number of households with their own children in 2014 was 33 million, down from 35 million in 2005, even as the total number of households has shot up by nearly 6 million. By comparison, there are about 43 million households with dogs, according to the ASPCA’s low-end estimate.

Shifts in child bearing will profoundly affect our geography, politics and economic future. Children, after all, define our future society, and provide the primary motivation for parents and grandparents. Without a strong familial structure, we will be facing a rather grim future, as an expanding older population grows ever more dependent on a shrinking base of young working-age people. Demographer Sami Karam notes that the 1980s Reagan boom benefited from demographics of that period, with a rising proportion of working people to retirees. With trends headed the opposite way, he suggests, no such expansion may even be possible today.

To some, of course, an increasingly childless future represents something of an ideal. Many greens regard offspring as unwanted additional emitters of carbon, and historically have proposed limiting families. It also provides manna to those high-density developers who no longer will have to worry about renters seeking to establish themselves in homes best suited for raising children.

Birthrates always plummet under socialism.

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