Posted on April 9, 2020

Too Few Babies Threaten American Prosperity and National Security

Peter Morici, Desert News, April 2, 2020

The U.S. lifetime birth rate per woman is 1.78 — down from 2.12 in 2007 and below the pace needed to sustain the national population without significant net immigration. Annual population and labor force growth rate has fallen to about 0.5%, as the Trump administration has pushed down net immigration by more than 40% since 2016.

Now, a protracted, deep recession instigated by the coronavirus will likely push down the birth rate further.

In 2018, the Social Security Administration began paying more benefits than it received in payroll taxes. The pension fund is expected to run out by 2035 and for Medicare much sooner.

The ratio of working-age Americans to seniors has fallen from 5 in early 1980s to 3.6 this year, and it is likely to drop to 2.8 by the time the well runs dry. After that the Social Security Administration is on a pay-as-you-go basis. Either working Americans will have to pay dramatically higher payroll taxes or benefits will be radically cut.


{snip} Liberals would like lots of federally funded family-friendly programs — guaranteed pre-K, paid family leave and the like. Europe has done all those, and its fertility rates are no better than ours.

Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. average 1.72.

Family allowances — annual payment for each child, which Germany generously offers up to the age of 25 — could help. That looks like a guaranteed annual income, which should be attractive to liberals. Such direct incentives should be appealing to conservatives too if we can agree more children are needed.

Vox identified 11 European countries with baby bounties. Comparing those to national fertility rates indicates little significant impact on birth rates.

Women with university educations marry and have first babies much later and fewer children. Having a second or third child is not nearly as attractive as putting more energy into a career and enjoying more independence from a male breadwinner.

What really must change is that women again see satisfaction in having more than two children — as some will always have fewer owing to premature death, unresolvable personal issues or infertility.

Peddling the idea that three children is the ideal is social dynamite no politician wants to touch, but our civilization needs more babies to survive.