Study: Falling U.S. birth rate could be good for economy

Children look at the 2017 Lord & Taylor Holiday Window unveiling at Lord & Taylor on November 9 in New York City. A new study says the birth rate is falling in the United States, which could help the economy. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Nov. 20 (UPI) — Americans are not making enough babies to keep up with the death rate and it’s resulting in a population decline. But a new study says that might be a good thing.

Negative Population Growth, Inc. says millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are facing an array of economic problems, including wage stagnation, rising home prices and crippling student debt, which has resulted in a “baby bust.” Citing numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of babies born in the United States “fell by 338,000 — or 8.7 percent — between 2007 (the year prior to the Great Recession) and 2016.”

NPG added: “Over that period the national fertility rate (births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, 15 to 44) fell from 69.3 to an historic low, 62.0, in 2016. At the peak of the post World War II Baby Boom, in 1960, the rate was 118.0.”

But economic anxiety isn’t the only reason for the falling birthrate. Improved sex education and access to contraceptives is a major reason, especially among teenagers. The teen birth rate has fallen 50 percent since 2007.

But the trend continues for all women under the age of 30, an age group that has seen pregnancy levels fall to record lows in 2016.

NPG said that while some believe a lower birth rate could be detrimental, it could end up having more positives than negatives, due to the changing economic and labor landscape, including the growth of automation and artificial intelligence.

“Some demographers are freaked out by the falling birth rate, an occupational hazard for people who spend their professional lives scrutinizing population statistics,” NPG said. “Economists, however, have made peace with the notion that a shrinking population is not necessarily a bad thing. While GDP may slow, a better measure of the country’s economic health — GDP per capita — can benefit. This is especially relevant in a world where robots, AI, and other technologies threaten the jobs of many Americans.”


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