We’re Number One!

Well, not really.

While so-called “pro-life” anti-abortion rhetoric continues to be a centerpiece of the Republican party platform, America’s fertility rate is on the decline and is now below that of those darn evil socialists in Europe.

Likely due to the lingering effects of the Great Recession, America’s total fertility rate has fallen below the level necessary to keep the population stable. As the Economist noted, “in 2011 America’s fertility rate was below replacement level and below that of some large European countries. The American rate is now 1.9 and falling. France’s is 2.0 and stable. The rate in England is 2.0 and rising slightly.”

And if the Republicans have their way in kicking nearly 2 million people, including hundreds of thousands of children, off of food stamps and school lunches, I can only imagine the birth disparity growing.

The Republican War on Women isn’t a great force of encouragement either if you’re looking to plan a family.

If a would-be President Romney passed the Ryan budget, the next trend in parenting may be leaving the country to have children. Because it would be not hyperbole to say that your chances of having a healthy child, with the best chance of succeeding in life, will be greater somewhere else if it isn’t already.

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  • Lazarus Durden

    I’m one of those people. I don’t plan on having kids any time soon. Who can afford it?

  • http://twitter.com/JimmyAbra Jimmy Abraham

    Hey, isn’t that one way to improve future employment numbers, less people?

  • BenAu

    I think fertility rates can be dependent on social factors as much (or more) than financial ones.

    Here in Australia we have good social security and a very strong “socialised” (not that we ever call it that) medical system. While pregnant, you have access to free doctor and midwife consultations, at least one free ultrasound appointment, and access to birth and parenting classes.

    Once you’ve had the baby, you receive what is known as the “Baby Bonus” where the government actually pays you AU$5000 (atm AU$ have consistent parity with US$) to meet the costs of every newborn or stillborn baby you have. This bonus was specifically introduced (by a conservative government no less) in order to address our falling fertility rate and the inevitable future revenue/expenditure imbalances.

    And yet, our fertility rate is dropping again (after the Baby Bonus bump) and is not much higher than US rates (1.89 in latest figures). The most significant factor cited by the collectors of the data is “Australian women are continuing to delay child-bearing. The median age at child-bearing increased from 28.3 years in 1990 to 29.8 years in 2000, then to 30.7 years in 2010.” Having babies later means you’ll have less of them due to decreasing fertility and time/cost factors of medical assistance (IVF etc).

    While in some countries, you might argue that this delay is due to financial factors which keep people needing double-incomes and counting costs of child-raising, that is less so here. However, we do have the standard Western social imperative of living to the limit of our means (bigger income=bigger mortgage, bigger car loans, costlier livestyle).

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is that sometimes people have less kids because they don’t want them when they are physically more capable of having them, not because of government policies.