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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Declining Fertility

Lyman Stone has an AEI report titled "Declining Fertility in America."
    Birth rates in America are declining, leading to one of the lowest rates of population growth on record, soon to become the lowest ever. This will likely have far-reaching negative economic consequences. Furthermore, the trend is shared with many industrialized nations and is observed across geographic areas and ethnic groups in the United States, including immigrant women and previously high-fertility states such as Utah and Hawaii.

    This decline is led by falling birth rates for women under 30, but in recent years, even women in their 30s have seen falling birth rates. These declines will almost certainly result in millennial women ultimately having fewer children than previous generations had.


    The problem, then, is not about Americans not valuing childbearing, but about barriers to childbearing (and, implicitly, barriers to marriage and independent family formation). These barriers are numerous:

  • Increased young adult debt service costs due to student loans;
  • Decreasing young adult homeownership due to rapidly rising housing costs and student loans;
  • Increasing years spent actively enrolled in educational institutions, which tends to reduce birth rates dramatically while enrolled;
  • Higher cost of market-based childcare, alongside rising need for hired childcare due to diminished extended family support and more two-earner families; and
  • Changed social and cultural expectations of parents and parenting, making children and childbearing more burdensome than for previous generations.