Here’s a link to my op-ed today in the LA Times. I say the recessionary birthrate drop bodes well. Or, per comments, is it geno-suicide? Your thoughts?
I agree with this. The value in motherhood is discounted, devalued and not even a consideration in the larger prosperity of nations. When women have choices as to when to have babies on their own terms, then populations will level off. We are all better for it.
I left this comment at the LA Times, but think the author of this op-ed ought to read it. She totally ignores the effect of mass migration into countries where the native-born population practices, for want of a better term, sustainable family planning. That is allowing– over a generation — literally tens of millions of legal immigrants and millions of illegal immigrants, negates and positive benefit waiting until late twenties, or thirties or even early forties might have for the native born, especially as those immigrants are invariably from high fertility, low first age of birth societies. That is, the resources that parents could be spending on their own kids are now going to children of foreigners — see the recent megamillion dollar high school that the LA unified school district recently constructed.
Thanks for following up. Certainly there are more several dynamics in play here. The piece begins with recession’s contraceptive effect — this can be viewed as a sign of responsible frugality, over the short term — and as it happens, leading to good effects for families and the nation’s human capital reserve. Then the essay tracks the suggestion in the data that what we’re seeing is less an overall drop in the birth rate than a delay of kids — until women are older than they are now, and in increasing proportions until they are in their 30s and over. Some of these folks are having first births, some are having second, third kids – etc…. This does not so much equal a downturn in overall population as a delay — that was the emphasis here.
Though it will lead some folks to have fewer kids overall, it seems likely that many will have the same number, just later, since many who start early stop early too once they encounter the costs of child rearing. Lots more to say around this – but it’s not the same effect you see in Japan or in Germany, for diverse reasons. And if more women move up into policy making roles, people could end up having more kids, earlier, in better circumstances.
This does not address the concerns of people worried (with good reason) about overpopulation – but one commenter on another site refers us to an essay in the current National Geographic. Hoping to read that shortly.
Re immigrants – they have been part of US growth process all along – and they too tend to delay in second generation.
Thanks for the response. I would just say that in waiting, some women/couples are inevitably going to run into fertility problems and that, it would seem to me, would mean a slightly lower birth rate overall. It also means that some medical care costs/resources that would have gone into other fields are going into endocrinology/fertility. Some of my extended group of friends/colleagues etc have spent ungodly amounts on various treatments.
And I don’t know the overall data, but I did take a gander at the teen birth rate in various states, and Latinas are off the charts compared to whites. In California, a heavily Latino state, the teen birthrate in 2008 was 66 per 1000 girls, versus 15.1 per 1000 for ‘Anglos’. Most of these Latinas are native-born, but many are the first generation. It will be interesting to see what the recession does to that teen birthrate figure; I suspect it will have little effect.
Here’s a citation from the CDC report:
“Births declined for all race and Hispanic origin groups, down 4 percent for Hispanic women, 2 percent for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) women, and 1 percent for Asian or Pacific Islander (API) women.”
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