February 20, 2013
"Where Have All the Babies Gone?"
Newsweek reflects on the potentially devastating effects of a childless - they call it "postfamalial" on our culture. Here are a few quotes:
...Postfamilial America is in ascendancy as the fertility rate among women has plummeted, since the 2008 economic crisis and the Great Recession that followed, to its lowest level since reliable numbers were first kept in 1920. That downturn has put the U.S. fertility rate increasingly in line with those in other developed economies—suggesting that even if the economy rebounds, the birthrate may not....
..."Kids, they change your entire life. That’s the name of the game. And that’s not something I’m interested in doing.” ...
These changes are not theoretical or inconsequential. Europe and East Asia, trailblazers in population decline, have spent decades trying to push up their birthrates and revitalize aging populations while confronting the political, economic, and social consequences of them. It’s time for us to consider what an aging, increasingly child-free population, growing more slowly, would mean here. As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees—basically their parents—and working-age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor and creating a culture marked by hyperindividualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes.
Crudely put, the lack of productive screwing could further be screwing the screwed generation.
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The Newsweek article is pretty vague about what these "potentially devastating effects" are. More importantly, I wonder if they exist at all. According to the CDC, there are approximately 4 million births and 2.5 million deaths in the United States each year (according to 2010 data). Although women may be choosing to not have children or to have children later in life, I don't see how this leads to "dependence on the state as the family unit erodes." Instead, it seems that we would have fewer people depending on state assistance. Moreover, does the family unit erode simply by making a choice to not have children? Surely a husband and wife who choose not to have children constitute a family (and not an erosion of family) as much as a husband and wife without children due to infertility constitute a family. Instead of the perceived lack of births in the U.S., perhaps the real phenomenon that is causing erosion of the family unit is the fact that, according to the CDC, in 2010, over forty percent of babies were born to unwed parents.
Posted by: Emily Stoner | Feb 28, 2013 3:18:33 PM