Babyless Recession?


Crying over his share of the national debt

Well, not entirely babyless. After all, several of my esteemed colleagues have spawned recently (hearty congratulations!). But they are going against a lower fertility trend says a new forecast by the business consultancy Demographic Intelligence. As the company's press release explains:

The sluggish economic recovery is continuing to drive down total births in the United States in 2012, according to the July edition of the U.S. Fertility Forecast from Demographic Intelligence. Moreover, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in the U.S. is predicted to fall to a 25-year low this year, 1.87 children per woman, from a recent high of 2.12 per children per woman in 2007.

The ongoing decline in total births is particularly striking because the Echo Boom generation, the children of the Baby Boomers, is moving into childbearing age. This means that the number of women in their prime childbearing age is now surging, which should have led to an increase in the overall number of children born each year. But this baby boomlet has so far failed to materialize because today's young adults are concerned about their current employment status and future economic prospects.

The report notes that American women still intend to bear 2.2 children on average when the economy improves.

The direction of population trends (either up or down) has been a favorite topic of prophets of doom for centuries. For the possible edification of H&R readers, I point to my take-down of the silly doomster novel Ishmael. Bonus: The novel's protagonist is a telepathic gorilla who is channeling the world's most strident and least accurate doomster, Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich is the author of the spectacularly wrong, The Population Bomb. How wrong?

Here's a nice doomsaying prophecy from the 1968 edition*:

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon now."

*Always cite the 1968 edition, because by the 1971 edition Ehrlich had changed his apocalytic prediction without acknowledging it to "In the 1970s and 1980s…." Of course, even that modified prediction was wrong.