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United States Science

US Births Dip To 30-Year Low (npr.org) 571

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The birthrate fell for nearly every group of women of reproductive age in the U.S. in 2017, reflecting a sharp drop that saw the fewest newborns since 1978, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 3,853,472 births in the U.S. in 2017 -- "down 2 percent from 2016 and the lowest number in 30 years," the CDC said. The general fertility rate sank to a record low of 60.2 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 -- a 3 percent drop from 2016, the CDC said in its tally of provisional data for the year. The results put the U.S. further away from a viable replacement rate -- the standard for a generation being able to replicate its numbers. "The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971," according to the report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "The decline in the rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest single-year decline since 2010," the CDC said. The 2017 numbers also represent a 10-year fall from 2007, when the U.S. finally broke its post-World War baby boom record, with more than 4.3 million births.

US Births Dip To 30-Year Low

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  • by Reverend Green ( 4973045 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @11:33PM (#56630576)

    I, for one, welcome our new sexless, soulless, joyless Feminist overlords.

    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @11:36PM (#56630586)

      nah, most feminists have children, 86% of women do. they're just not having more than 2, instead about 1.86 kids on average. That's not enough to keep a population growing.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2018 @11:44PM (#56630614)

        Does the population need to grow? We keep hearing about how robots are going to take over manufacturing and agriculture and AI will take over service industries, that there will be fewer jobs for humans. Maybe America doesn't need to grow further, but has instead reached a technological level where the machines can sustain our standard of living while we reach a more sustainable population equilibrium with nature.

        Oh, wait, the underclasses will breed like rabbits and immigrants will flood our country because we're rich. Fuck.

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          People having children boosts the economy if the parents have jobs. They need to spend money on clothes, household items, toys, gifts and food. Many places have now become ghost towns because so many families have moved out.
          The trouble is everyone moves to where the jobs are, and the jobs move to where everyone is. Many people won't take the risk of moving to a one company town for job security reasons.

        • Yes it does need to grow because you will eventually get a smaller and smaller working population and then less tax revenues and your economy shrinks etc etc
        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Modern economies are based on continual exponential growth. From the stock market to pension plans, they all depend on it.

          If your population doesn't grow, that's probably not going to happen. And yeah, it has to end sometime, but the western countries are all desperately trying to stave off the day of reckoning, mostly with very open immigration policies and paying people to have kids.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      If feminists didn't want sex and children then why are they so concerned with birth control, sexual liberation, parental leave etc?

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @11:42PM (#56630604)
    pay us. Births are dropping because Americans are becoming less religious (so no opposition to birth control, not even the token opposition you get from most Catholics).

    To be honest the solution right now isn't to pay us more, it's to bring in more labor from overseas. It's hard to argue with that since it's working. It just sucks if you're a member of the working class.
    • by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:00AM (#56630682)

      Or give people an incentive to have kids instead of importing more people and driving down wages so couples can't afford to have kids.

      • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:07AM (#56630708)
        Yep. Reasonable working hours, parental leave, sick/personal days, vaca time, so people actually have TIME to care for their families.
        • And better education, including tertiary education that doesn't require taking on a massive debt load.

          • Well educated, higher income parents families actually have fewer children then less educated, lower income ones. This holds true for European countries which check all the boxes on your wishlist's. Un-intuitively, putting all-their-eggs in one basket makes more sense for families that have a lot of resources and for ones that have have few, many and hope for the best
        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @06:41AM (#56631816) Homepage

          Yep. Reasonable working hours, parental leave, sick/personal days, vaca time, so people actually have TIME to care for their families.

          Here in Norway we have all that in abundance and we still are below reproduction rates. The primary reason is that we start having children later, in the last 30 years the average age of first motherhood has risen from 25 to 29 years old. It's got nothing to do with teaching kids about condoms and such, teen pregnancies haven't been statistically significant in ages. Through the pill and legalized abortion women generally have children when they want to have children and no sooner, the change is intentional.

          One of the reasons is modern day equality, apart from some immigrants no Norwegian woman thinks housewife is a career or want to settle for less than men but pregnancy and the first months of a child's life can't be split 50-50. So most women want to be done with their education and have an established job before they start a family. And with their economic independence it's not about "catching" a man and rushing to get the ring on his finger and pop out a kid so he's stuck and even then divorce and finding a new partner is not the scandal it used to be.

          The effect of this is that even established couples are living out their responsibility-free lives for years until the woman is approaching thirty and the biological clock starts ticking, because once it starts it's diapers, babysitters and wailing toddlers for the next five years. And most typically stop at two, some have three but almost never four or more because you start running into either time or money constraints. Like if the woman is going back to work as most do then three is a bundle on top of two working parents, if she (sorry, it's usually she) does part time or stay-at-home then the money runs short.

          Not like the kids go hungry or freezing short, but like "we can't afford to let you participate in the things other kids do" short. It's hard not unintentionally acting like a dick when it's loose change for your two high income, one kid family while to a single income, three kid family it's an expense they can't afford on a really tight budget. And admitting you're poor well that's still a taboo, we've gotten rid of a lot of other social taboos but that one still hurts. And if you get like five kids, you're pretty much guaranteed to end up there these days.

        • I find it insane that so many parents both go to work in the morning (instead of one staying home to care for their child), just so they can make enough money to pay someone else to take care of their child.

      • It's more basic and universal. In third world countries more kids means more profit as you get "free" labor. In first world countries there is absolutely no labor or financial incentive and the drain is huge (day care, food, clothing, doctor bills, etc.). Every single country that moves towards a first world system sees their birth rates drop. Not a bad thing seeing as how the alternative would really screw the world.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Incidentally, there was an early 20th-century German eugenics program that paid cash bonuses to college graduates who had children. The theory was that their offspring would be genetically superior to that of the lower classes. I'm skeptical that holds up, but it might have made sense for other reasons.

      Today in the USA there are many subsidies for having children (tax breaks, increased welfare/food stamp benefits, child healthcare programs). IMO the most effective subsidy would be on hospital childbirth cos

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:35AM (#56630834)

        It is not about money. At some time, a society just reaches a state where it does not expand anymore and instead shrinks down slowly to a sane size. Most of the west is already there or getting there fast. It is not really a problem, you just need to manage this instead of ignoring it and sticking to the old recipes. Of course, the leadership of some countries is less well equipped to do that...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          It very much is about money, if you read the article you would see that the biggest drops are in women 30 years of age, women(and their partners) who are facing crippling student debt, housing costs, and health care costs. Costs are certainly one of the reasons women aren't having as many children.
          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            I, unlike you, have access to more sources of information than just this article. It is not about money. That is just an agenda pushed by some people that want to obscure the real thing that is going on.

    • Or, perhaps, allow people from other countries to move to the USA ... Like, Syrians and other people living in war-torn areas.

  • by Ayano ( 4882157 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @11:42PM (#56630606)
    If you want to send the kid to college to be a part of the future, else you're all but assuring them knee-capped employment possibilities. There's a higher expectation overall for parenting, especially for middle income Americans that plan this out. Uneducated folk in the lower income brackets however will still reproduce irresponsibly though.
    • State/city college is cheap -- in NY, CUNY/SUNY are great and basically free if family income is less than $120,000/yr. Ivy-league schools are better for grad/pre-professional (i.e. law/med school) anyway, not for undergrad.

      This goes for many states with a good public uni system -- NY, NJ, PA, Maryland, CA, MA.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      An easy way to improve employment opportunities is to take a large number of people out of the workforce. Given all the time it takes to raise children, perhaps some people who are working could rear children instead. Then, the remaining workers would have employers competing for workers by raising their wages. The increased wages could cover the cost of one's reproductive partner raising a child rather than working.

      Gentlemen, I present to you: Domestics!

      • Or just encourage part-time work for one or both parents. 30 hr a week can be more easily be made to coincide with time kids spend in school/pre-school/kindergarten.

        National insurance, lower the fixed costs of employment benefits by socializing them, require employers to provide parental/vacation leave.

      • by BobSutan ( 467781 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @09:49AM (#56632602)

        This should be higher voted. Women entering the workforce in droves is in large part why wages have stagnated since the 60s & 70s. It's plain old supply and demand, available labor surged so rates went down. Add the glut of "undocumented workers" and all combined you've just solved why it takes a dual-income family to raise kids anymore if you don't want to be raising them in poverty.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @08:05AM (#56632058)

      If you want to send the kid to college to be a part of the future, else you're all but assuring them knee-capped employment possibilities. There's a higher expectation overall for parenting, especially for middle income Americans that plan this out. Uneducated folk in the lower income brackets however will still reproduce irresponsibly though.

      Why college? Send them to trade school to become a welder, electrician, AMT, etc. With enough time in and skill, any of those jobs can lead to six-figure incomes without the debt load of a 4 year degree. This is an especially attractive option for children who have natural intelligence but are more mechanically inclined or like to tinker/build things as opposed to being book smart. Not everyone is built for college.

  • by enriquevagu ( 1026480 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:10AM (#56630722)

    Wellcome to 2008!

    BTW, the original article has been edited to correct the date yo 1987.

  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    There are already too many people on the world. Having less would be a good thing.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      So what human population size is the objectively perfectly ideal size? If we reach that size, are you sure noone will then argue that it should be a different size?
      This seems as pointless as saying 'things should be different' with no explanation.

      • So what human population size is the objectively perfectly ideal size?

        One that is sustainable. I don't know the exact number, but I'm pretty sure we're at least an order of magnitude too high right now.

        If we reach that size, are you sure noone will then argue that it should be a different size?

        Oh, I'm sure they will argue.

        • Any population size is sustainable if you're willing to work at sustaining it. Which we're not.
        • One that is sustainable. I don't know the exact number, but I'm pretty sure we're at least an order of magnitude too high right now.

          You really would have been better off ending at "I don't know."

          • There are plenty of signs that our current population is too high for sustainability. We're running out of resources, including water, topsoil, phosphates, fuels, and we're creating way too much CO2 to name just a handful of obvious things.

            I don't think anybody knows the "perfect" number (which would obviously depend on a lot on technology), but it's fairly obvious that we've already overshot it. There's certainly no harm in going back a bit.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Very obviously so. There are a lot of irrational nay-sayers on this very idea though. These are the people that want to stick to the human race expanding against all evidence that it is not a good idea, until it starts to rot away like a bacterial colony that has grown too far. There are those that say this has already started...

  • Crazy Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DevsVult ( 207779 ) <glory AT interlog DOT com> on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:22AM (#56630782) Homepage

    In developed countries we've seen the birth rate decline over the last several decades. I suggest that young people are reacting to negative conditions for having kids, by having less kids. Student debt, declining real wages, the rising cost of housing, expensive medical insurance, politics, religion shown to be empty, cultural Marxism; all are perceived by the primitive layers of our brains as the kind of resource scarcity and adverse social conditions that make having kids unwise.

    That even today's relatively poor people have more goods and better health care than the rich did a hundred years ago is irrelevant: the reptile layers of our brain translate our collective worry and disconnection into less offspring.

    This is positive news, because the birth rate should rise if conditions improve. I ascribe the declining prosperity of recent decades to declining energy returned for energy invested in the extraction of fossil fuels, an effect ameliorated somewhat by automation's productivity increases. Things will continue to get worse until the exponential increase in cheap solar and wind energy overwhelms the decrease in the value of fossil energy; which should happen in the next few years. Once this happens, everyone will start getting wealthier fast, as increasing energy and automation will improve people's lifestyles in tandem.

    Cheapening energy means financial security for the young, which leads to affordable housing, health care, food security, reduced conflict and increased social cohesion. Under these conditions, the birth rate will rise.

    • Things will continue to get worse until the exponential increase in cheap solar and wind energy overwhelms the decrease in the value of fossil energy; which should happen in the next few years

      Solar is still insignificant on a global scale, especially where it concerns transportation fuels. Tesla is only producing a few thousand fully electric cars in a week, while we have a billion cars driving around using fossil fuels. It's going to take more than 'the next few' years to catch up.

  • Just import people, import an insane amount of people, just keep importing people over and over and over, hundreds and hundreds of thousands a year.

    Increase your population by over 1% a year, we do! It's fantastic.

    Well, it's fantastic for employers and people in government, road toll and public transit operators.
    I mean the roads are packed, houses have maintained insanely high prices for over a decade, wages are suppressed super low and employers have their pick when it comes to choices to hire. The gov

  • Thanos would be pleased.

    A decline in population is a good thing every once in a while. It would solve a vast number of the worlds problems.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @02:38AM (#56631248)

    Are there more people in the US, Japan, Italy, the UK, Germany, etc than there were 100 years ago?

    Yep.

    After this population decline will there still be more people?

    Yep.

    Was the US, Japan, Italy, the UK, Germany under populated 100 years ago?

    Nope.

    so... Problem?

    Constantly we get "because there are too many people the EARTH is going to die"... then we get this stupid shit with "Because there are fewer babies freak out."

    Which is it? Seems like the newsies just want to turn anything into a story. Numbers go up and the world will eat itself to death... numbers go down and the world will empty of all people.

    Both narratives are stupid.

    There is no under population or over population issue in the industrialized Western world. We have HOUSING shortages... stressed schools... stressed water and power infrastructure. So... under population? Not really possible.

    The story out of Japan is that they have a big problem with low birth rate. Have you seen Japan? Does it "look" under populated? And here you might say "but in 30 years it will be"... no it won't. The trend would have to continue for several generations to actually cause a problem. And whilst it is fun to just take a trend line from a statistic and project it out 500 years a projected statistic gets increasingly less reliable the farther you project it.

    Populations are going to go up and down in the future as our societies, our economies, our cultures change.

    I mean, who wants to be packed into a coffin apartment in Mega City 1? I don't. Fuck that noise. I want a lawn and a dog. I want a garden where I can putter around in my old age growing tomatoes or something just for fun. If you want to die in a tiny apartment, that's great. Everyone should have what they want. But I think a lot of people want a little space.

    I want to spread out a bit. Big concentrations of population have all sorts of statistical problems. The worst schools, the worst crime, the worst corruption, the least political agency, the highest stress... there are reasons to not want it. There are also good things. The best hospitals, the best schools, the most economic opportunities, wonderful museums, concerts, plays, wonderful shops, etc.

    Just let what is going to happen happen.

    We have a lot of stuff that has changed in our society. The entry of women into pretty much every profession. The changing notion of when you have a family. The changing notion of what it means to be married in the first place. All of that. How could it not have an impact on birth rates? Of course it will.

    And this is just going to play out. Probably the most aggressive career seeking women that spend the least energy on trying to get a family will statistically have fewer children. That will play out in time in the population. With the cultural tropes that push that below replacement rate becoming less and less common such that AT LEAST there is replacement. Who thinks that when we made all those changes we got everything 100% right? Of course we didn't. This is an experiment.

    We'll see what happens. But there's no population problem up or down in the modern industrialized West. We're fine. And that's before even talking about immigration which is its own little shit show.

  • And how bad it is, we already know that and this is a sensitive subject here (well, at least it used to be)
  • > The results put the U.S. further away from a viable replacement rate -- the standard for a generation being able to replicate its numbers. ...and yet the US population is still rising year on year.

    http://www.multpl.com/united-s... [multpl.com]

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @12:12PM (#56633504) Journal
    What responsible human being would subject an innocent child to the dystopian world we're living in today?
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @03:18PM (#56634672)

    The US is going through some big structural/societal changes. It's not some, "I don't want to bring a child into this horrible world" thing -- it's the fact that more people have choices or feel they have choices than they did in the past.

    - Fewer women are voluntarily deciding to spend their entire work life raising children. They are better educated overall and the workforce is more open to them. When you go this route, you just can't in good conscience have a huge number of kids because something has to give between work and family. Most good parents I know would rather err on the side of family, but they also know they have a responsibility to work.
    - People are less religious: I grew up in a very Catholic area of the city, and I'm not shocked that so many priests and bishops got away with crimes against kids. Back in the day, priests were likely the only people in the neighborhood who went to college, and many people felt they were the representative of God and the Pope, and totally beyond question. Birth control is not allowed in Catholic doctrine and Catholic families used to be HUGE as a result. I know people who have 9 siblings...and I think a lot of it is due to people adhering strictly to their religion's rules.
    - Women as a whole aren't just looking to find a husband and take the first situation that comes their way, so they're starting to have kids later in life. And even if they do get married early on, they're way more likely to delay having kids until they're more financially secure.

    The interesting thing is whether the expected replacement rate is still too high. We need fewer people, not less, if we want to keep the whole employment cycle going. The thing that will probably keep this from becoming a catastrophe is the US' diversity. For every hard-charging single-by-choice female executive that's 110% dedicated to their career, there's a traditional, religious woman who gets married when they're 21 and has a kid every 2 years until they're 35. This is different in places like Japan where they have almost no immigration and a very homogeneous society...in their case the birth rate is too low and they're going to have to have some huge shifts in the next few decades to deal with it.

    We have 2 kids, we both work and that's way more than enough for us. We've done our evolutionary duty IMO and would rather concentrate on turning the kids into people who will contribute something to society. You can't do that when your attention is spread between 2 jobs, your living situation and 5 kids.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court

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