Spawning: A Job Americans Will Do


In the current issue of The American Interest, Nicholas Eberstadt muses on "American Demographic Exceptionalism":

America's limited but unmistakable fertility upsurge over the past generation marks a striking departure from trends for almost every other developed society. In the first half of this decade, according to UN Population Division projections, America's [total fertility rates] and [net replacement rates] were fully 50 percent higher than Japan's and about 45 percent higher than averages for Europe as a whole. Europe's overall fertility levels, to be sure, may currently be depressed by the post-communist demographic shocks that some former Soviet bloc countries (most notably Russia) in eastern Europe continue to experience. But even compared with the amalgam of west European societies, the U.S.-European fertility gap now looks like a yawning chasm. America's recent fertility trends have even opened a divide between the United States and Canada, countries that have long been regarded as demographic "twins."

U.S. fertility rates can't be ascribed to fecund teenagers, whose birth rates plunged by a third between 1990 and 2004, or to minorities, whose birth rates are mostly converging with the Anglo majority. (Hispanic American fertility levels remain relatively high, but not high enough to explain the gap between the U.S. and other developed nations.) Nor can we thank pro-natalist government policies; as Eberstadt points out, "The United States has none."