“Current developments indicate that 25% of women born in the 1990s will never have children,” says economist Lyman Stone and sociology professor W. Bradford Wilcox of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
“Empty cradles mean a bleak future”
Under this title, Stone and Wilcox published the results of their study in the US news magazine Newsweek: While the European birth rate has been falling for decades, the US birth rate has remained stable at around 2.0. This is roughly the birth rate necessary to keep the population at the current level.
The Great Recession that began in 2007 caused American birth rates to collapse. Although the economy has since recovered, it did not rise again and soon fell to 1.7: “Our birth rate has never been so low in America,” according to the researchers.
Around 16 million fewer children are to be expected within 20 years. Japan was at this point 20 years ago. The result: 25% of all Japanese women born in the 1970s remain childless.
Childlessness is usually not a decision
The reason, however, is demonstrably not that fewer women want children. In reality, over 95% of American women want to be a mother.
And the number is increasing, as the demographers collective Demographic Intelligence found out. No wonder: having biological or adoptive children demonstrably makes people happier!
“Many women of childbearing age are concerned”
There are mainly economic reasons that the birth rate has plummeted so sharply. In April 2020, a study found that many women are “worried about the cost of having a child, the time it takes and the state of the economy”.
In American marriages, the birth rate has remained stable. Ethnic minorities and penniless whites marry less and less, which increases the economic and social insecurity.
“As a result, family life, understood as two capable parents living with their children, is increasingly becoming an upper-middle-class luxury,” write Stone and Wilcox.
Fatal consequences for society
It is not difficult to imagine the consequences for the state: lower economic power, fewer taxpayers, fewer skilled workers and so on. But Stone and Wilcox say it is “a little perverse” to focus on these issues.
“The real tragedy” does not lie in the difficulties that arise for the state budget, but in “what this means for millions of men – and especially women – who will not have the children they wanted.”
Also, an increasing number of Americans will “basically age and die on their own.” Furthermore, the researchers warn of a “weakened cohesion of the generations”.
The naive government solution: refugees.
Stone and Wilcox, on the other hand, recommend something completely different. They urgently advise families to support and enable people to realize their desire to have children.