Tuesday, July 22, 2014
US birthrate seems to be sinking more because of economy (and maybe individualism)
The Washington Post has a Storyline account today by Todd Frankel, “What if I never have children? With US birthrate near historic law, a Missouri couple faces a bug question posed by a difficult economy”, online titled “They want a baby. The economy won’t play along”, link here.
Indeed, the recovery is slow, especially with respect to wages and a feeling of job and financial security. So couples now delay having children, more than in the past.
A certain portion of the population delays having children, or avoids it altogether, in favor of career (with preparation through years of education), or simply because of a more hyper-individualized sense of socialization (or a lack of need or toleration for it).
All of this gets ironic in various ways, some of which we can’t afford forever. We keep the work force (especially the “manual labor” part, to rehearse my own father’s moral musings) up through legal immigration – and often illegal immigration. With the increasing acceptability of gay marriage, we now ponder not just whether same-sex couples make good parents, we wonder if we should ask them to become parents --- maybe sometimes of immigrants.
In Russia, facing demographic catastrophe with its low birth rate, the anti-gay law of 2013 seems motivated in large part by perceptions that gay men not only don’t have many children of their own, but discourage others from doing so. China must think how to undo it’s previous “one child” policy.