United States

U.S. Baby Bust Fears Inspire a Radical Policy Proposal

Is the solution a "fertility dividend" that makes a portion of a person's Social Security benefit dependent on each of their offspring's earnings?

|

FalingFertilityUSOlegmalyshevDreamstime
Olegmalyshev/Dreamstime

"Birth rates in America are declining, leading to one of the lowest rates of population growth on record, soon to become the lowest ever," declares a new report on falling U.S. fertility by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) adjunct fellow Lyman Stone. "This will likely have far-reaching negative economic consequences." As fewer children are born, the average age of the population also increases. The median age of the U.S. population was 28 years in 1970 and is now 38 years.

Setting aside the consequences for the moment, let's look at the trend and the associated possible causes.

Roughly, the total fertility rate (TFR) is a calculation of how many kids a woman beginning her childbearing years now would have over her whole life if current birth rates remain stable. Conventionally, the replacement rate—that is, the number of children each woman should have over the course of her lifetime in order to maintain the current population—is defined as 2.1 kids per woman.

Stone convincingly argues that based on current birthrates the U.S. TFR is likely in 2018 to fall to around 1.74 or 1.75 kids per woman—the rate last seen in the early 1970s. And given the trajectory of births among Millennial women, he argues that American TFR is likely to fall to as low as 1.5 or 1.4 children per woman, rates that are currently found in southern and eastern Europe and East Asia.

So what is driving U.S. fertility rates lower? Stone suggests five reasons: Increasing student debt, decreasing young adult homeownership, rising years enrolled in tertiary education, higher childcare costs, and cultural mores requiring intensive parenting.

Comparisons with other western countries undercut the salience of Stone's list of five fertility-reducing factors a bit. Consider increasing student debt: In many European countries student debt is indeed rising, but university tuition and student living costs are still quite low. One particularly interesting case is Germany, where the expected cost of an undergraduate degree is about $2,200, and student debt is approximately $2,400. The German fertilty rate just hit a 43-year high at 1.5 children per woman. Meanwhile, no tuition and fees for public university education are charged in Brazil (TFR 1.73), Denmark (TFR 1.71), Finland (TFR 1.65 ), Norway (TFR 1.72), Poland (TFR 1.32), or Hungary (TFR 1.45).

With regard to homeownership, it is notable that the U.S. homeownership rate during the height of the Baby Boom (TFR 3.77) was 55 percent in 1950 and 61.9 percent in 1960. The homeownership rate peaked in 2004 (TFR 2.05) at 69.2 percent, and in the wake of the Great Recession, fell back to 62.9 percent in 2016. That is the same level it was at in 1965 (TFR 2.91). In addition, expectations about housing have changed. AEI economist Mark Perry has calculated that while the cost of building a new house has hovered around $120 per square foot since the 1970s, the average size has grown by nearly 1,000 square feet. Consequently, even as the average size of households has dropped, the average square feet has increased from 551 to 1,058 per person.

Rising years of enrollment is indeed a salient factor in reducing fertility, especially since more women are going to and graduating from college. As International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis demographer Wolfgang Lutz notes, "Almost universally, women with higher levels of education have fewer children." As Stone observes, more women are putting off child-bearing in order to complete their educations. In addition, educated women tend to take advantage of the greater economic opportunities outside of their homes, which also results in reduced fertility. Still, it is interesting to note many developed countries with lower percentages of their populations with bachelor's degrees or higher have lower fertility rates than the U.S., including Denmark (TFR 1.71), Germany (TFR 1.5), and Italy (TFR 1.35).

What about rising childcare costs? European countries that offer higher levels of government childcare support tend to have higher fertility rates than those that don't, but even in those countries, TFRs are below replacement, including in Denmark (TFR 1.71), Germany (TFR 1.5), and the Netherlands (TFR 1.66). It is likely that further subsidizing child care here would marginally increase fertility, but is not likely to boost it back to replacement or above.

Stone's fifth observation is that parenting has changed considerably from the good 'ole free range days of the Boomer generation, when kids could roam their neighborhoods and streets largely unsupervised. Modern parents are expected to devote huge amounts of time and money to nurturing their children; every child must have their own room, their own piano lesson, and their own soccer team. Stone is probably right that such demands prospectively tire out nearly anyone contemplating the burdens of child-rearing.

Interestingly, Stone does not explicitly consider another trend that correlates strongly with falling fertility: urbanization. It is a general rule that rural families have more children. In 1950, 60 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas, and now nearly 84 percent do. While rearing children in cities tends to cost more, the distractions of economic and entertainment opportunities afforded city dwellers also contribute to lower fertility rates.

So what about the negative economic consequences that worry Stone? He dwells chiefly on the problems that falling fertilty poses for intergenerational ponzi schemes like Social Security and Medicare. Unless new suckers, ah, citizens are born to contribute to these social welfare rollover plans, they will become ever greater drags on the economy. He hints that future parents may end up coping with the implosion of social welfare the old-fashioned way, that is, by bearing more children who can take care of them in their dotage.

Stone's novel idea to solve Social Security insolvency is to adopt a "fertility dividend" that would make "a portion of a person's Social Security benefit dependent not on their earnings but on their offspring's earnings." As Stone further explains:

Having kids, and particularly having kids who get a good education and a good job, would directly enhance a person's retirement prospects. An individual's choice to have children does more to keep Social Security solvent for the future than even high earnings during their working years, and thus rewarding retirees based on child contributions would more closely align the incentives of current workers and families with the actuarial needs of intergenerational social insurance plans such as Social Security and Medicare.

Stone does admit that his fertility dividend proposal is "almost certainly impossible to implement."

Does falling fertility neccessarily lead to economic enervation? Perhaps not. In their 2017 American Economic Review article critiquing this notion, economists Daron Acemoglu from MIT and Pascual Restrepo from Boston University "show that since the early 1990s or 2000s (the periods commonly viewed as the beginning of the adverse effects of aging in much of the advanced world) there is no negative association between aging and lower GDP per capita." Why not? In a word: robots. The two report that their analysis "shows that when capital is sufficiently abundant, a shortage of younger and middle-aged workers can trigger so much more adoption of new automation technologies that the negative effects of labor scarcity could be completely neutralized or even reversed."

Basically, if technological progress can boost productivity sufficiently, rising wealth would still be able to pay social welfare bills as they come due. Who needs kids when you've got robots?

Oddly, Stone mentions only in passing that immigration could substantially ameliorate his economic concerns so long as fertility in other countries remains above replacement.

How immigration contributes to economic vitality is highlighted in a fascinating new study that projects the economic consequences of zero international migration into the European Union (EU). The study found that without extra-EU migration the population of the 28 EU countries in 2060 would be 75 million lower than with migration, i.e. a 14 percent population reduction. Even worse, the working age population would be 20 percent lower. The overall 2060 EU real GDP would be 23 percent lower (Italy -33 percent, Spain -28 percent, UK -19 percent, Germany -35 percent, France -18 percent), than it would be with migration. In 2060 the EU GDP per capita with migration flows would be around $57,000, but it would be 10 percent less ($51,000) without migration.

Stone glumly acknowledges that the many pro-natality programs tried in other countries have not resulted in sustained increases in fertility. In other words, people worldwide are exercising their increasing reproductive liberty to trade off between the satisfactions of career and the myriad diversions offered by modernity and the pleasures of child-rearing. And that's a good thing, because the downsides of the pre-18th century Malthusian world of high fertility and high mortality were much greater than whatever difficulties our modern world of low fertilty and low mortality may bring.

NEXT: A Law and Order Candidate Is Indicted for Committing a Crime

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Stone glumly acknowledges that the many pro-natality programs tried in other countries have not resulted in sustained increases in fertility.”

    But, their anti-natality programs have been a resounding success!

      1. A factor that Bailey doesn’t want to address. Because government involvement in reproduction is bad, but only if it is promoting reproduction.

          1. Abortions are the least of the anti-natality preoccupation of the West. Let’s not forget that people who quote Malthus loves them some forcibly sterilized third-world people.

            http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30040790

            1. They’re too stupid (too brown) and have too many kids. What we supposed to do? Not force surgery upon them?

              1. I can feel my neck rankle as I read this article. I wonder how many people would read this and probably agree it is a necessary step.

                1. Take a wild guess at how this was funded. Because “peak population” is super serious. Also, Malthus totally had some good points that were used effectively to justify the starvation of the Irish and thus stagnated their economy until the latter half of the twentieth century.

                  1. Article says… “Who needs kids when you’ve got robots?”

                    As soon as we teach robots to mooch money and the car keys, then give you a bunch of smart-ass lip, and never listen to a damned thing that you say… And live in your basement at age 35… THEN the robots can replace the kids!

            2. As a great dumbass once said, three generations of imbeciles is enough?

              1. So you neutered yourself?

            3. Read that article, found this at the bottom: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: US Supreme Court judge has cancer surgery. I wonder what the over / under on her making it another year is. A 2020 departure would provide a legit excuse for the D’s to bitch if Trump and the R’s replace her, a’la Garland. (Not that they won’t bitch no matter what, but it would at least be a relatively fair cop at that point.)

              1. it would at least be a relatively fair cop at that point.

                Whaddya mean? Was their election not a mandate? Do they not have consequences?

                1. Whaddya mean? Was their election not a mandate? Do they not have consequences?

                  Enh, the whole not having a hearing for Garland because “election year”.

                  I’m not saying it’s a great precedent or anything, but it is one that the R’s set themselves.

                  So here’s hoping she exits stage right at some point in 2019, and we only have to put up with the normal amount of whining, as opposed to the whining being superturbocharged.

              2. If RBG kicks it, GOP won’t even bother with a committee hearing. Just rush it through. Dont’ let the Democrats cry and stomp their feet again.

                1. +100

                2. Following the Kavanaugh circus, that would be an appropriate response.
                  In fact, don’t even notify the Dems that the vote is taking place.

            4. Well there is a similarity between Malthus the elder and Malthus the younger. Given the elder’s love of tariffs (Corn Laws) and the younger’s same passion writ in steel & aluminum it would seem logical to conclude that sterilization of people in shit-hole countries may not be an issue. Having said that, props to D for trying to step off and leave certain shit-hole countries to be someone else’s problem.

            5. One of the biggest anti-natality programs is western women.
              So many of them are little more than spoiled princesses and man-hating freaks, sane men are avoiding having families. Yes, a lot of them still get suckered into being sperm donors. It’s biology. But when they keep their wiener wrapped and take the scum sock with them (never leave sperm behind that the bitch might inject into herself), the odds become longer that there will be a little windfall profit scheme hatched out in 9 months.

              The trend we should be looking at is that where women get knocked up, dump their husband (if they ever had one) and attach themselves to the government teat. Put an end to that.

              Meanwhile… Men have received the message loud and clear – Women don’t need men…

              …Unless they want to get stuff done because aside from obstruction, it’s pretty clear women are fucking incompetent.

              1. Stop drooling.

              2. So very true.
                It is economically suicidal for a man to have children under our current domestic relations laws.
                Men are saddled with all the obligations, and divested of all the rights when they have children.
                They think men ignore this, but the message has bubbled down to even the most horniest guy, have children and lose your everything.

        1. Here’s a crazy idea: maybe government should neither promote nor discourage reproduction. No more trying to engineer the future. People will figure it out.

          1. That sounds good, however the people complaining about the former never care about the latter.

          2. People figuring it out got us Climate Change, Zeb.

            1. You mean the Climate Con Sparky?

          3. But then how will they support their vast income redistribution scheme’s when the people drawing transfer payments exceed those who pay into the transfer payment programs?

            1. Too late.

    1. Plummeting birth rates are a sign of prosperity. Poor Malthus never imagined that people will eventually realize that kids are a drag. Give up your girl’s night out to stress out over little screaming thankless psychopaths? Fuck that. How about another mojito?

      1. “little screaming thankless psychopaths”
        This is how a majority of the left actually view children, with hatred, envy and fear. It’s no wonder abortion and infanticide are so popular with progressives.

        1. It’s weird watching liberals cry about selfishness on the side of the GOP while being as selfish as one can get in not letting a little thing like a baby inconvenience them.

      2. Malthus also didn’t realize that less people means less economic growth. He also didn’t realize that technological increases would outpace any kind of “Malthusian trap”. Even Engels criticized Malthus’ hypothesis. Think about that. The man who bankrolled a failed ideology realized that Malthus’s game of soothsayer was moronic.

        Why anyone still thinks that Malthus’ opinions on population were anything more than hilariously stupid is beyond me. Especially since population grew faster after Malthus’s warnings and there was no “Malthusian trap”.

        The mental gymnastics required to believe that technology will save us from a population glut, but cannot save us from too many people being born is really something to behold.

        1. “The mental gymnastics required to believe that technology will save us from a population glut, but cannot save us from too many people being born is really something to behold.”

          I’m more than willing to admit I’m not the smartest guy in the room. Hell, maybe it’s just because I’m not all the way through my coffee yet. But isn’t a population glut literally just another word for “too many people being born”?

          It seems like you are saying people believe technology can save us from too many people being born but also believe technology cannot save us from too many people being born. What am I missing here?

  2. The study found that without extra-EU migration the population of the 28 EU countries in 2060 would be 75 million lower than with migration, i.e. a 14 percent population reduction. Even worse, the working age population would be 20 percent lower. The overall 2060 EU real GDP would be 23 percent lower (Italy -33 percent, Spain -28 percent, UK -19 percent, Germany -35 percent, France -18 percent), than it would be with migration. In 2060 the EU GDP per capita with migration flows would be around $57,000, but it would be 10 percent less ($51,000) without migration.

    And? You just got through telling us how this is NBD and/or a non-sequitur because robots.

    1. Sounds like a good market for labor.
      Isn’t that what the Left wants? Labor rights/prosperity?
      Then why this desperate lust for migrants?
      Hmm…

    2. Deus Ex Robotica.

  3. Have they just asked people whether they want to have kids? Done a survey at some level. It does seem like people don’t want kids very much anymore. There is also a definite fear: fear of raising them wrong, fear of losing one’s free time. I’ve seen these expressed a few times.

    The better question might be why these morays have become so prominent. Certainly, I think it’s been increasingly viewed as a simple burden now.

      1. You know, I went back and forth on the spelling. Nothing looked right. And I don’t have internet anymore, so I couldn’t just go and check it. Damn shame.

        1. That must be a word I’ve read a lot more than I’ve heard it spoken. I always pronounce it in my head as “morz”.

          1. It’s pronounced like the eel.

            More – rays.

            1. We could all use some more rays. Amirite? Too much damn rain this year.

          2. Same here.

          3. You’d be welcome here in Texas with that kind of accent, Zeb. Come, join us!

            1. Y’all can join me over this Christmas in Dallas as I attempt to stalk Andrew Heaton.

              1. I at least expect a Christmas postcard with Heaton and Sarwarck sharing an eggnog.

          4. I always pronounce it in my head as “morz”.

            “I’m sorry, the card says moops.”

        2. lazy assholes couldn’t come up w/better word or different way to spell “mores” (morays) so half the planet wouldn’t be confused … totally the worst word in English language

          1. But it’s at the root of smores, and that can’t be bad.

        3. No internet?!? Are you using mind control for your replies?!? How are you here?!?!

    1. I think all the doom and gloom probably contributes to it too. As Nick pointed out in another post today, the world is not ending, but a lot of people seem to think it is. “How can I bring a baby into this world?” seems to be a fairly common sentiment among the doom-obsessed. The fact that similar fertility rates occurred in the 70s when there was a similarly pessimistic outlook among a lot of people supports this idea as well, I think.

      1. I’m pretty sure the people who say that are just self-centered instead of out of any actual fear of the future. I mean, that’s the reason I don’t have kids yet and the reason everyone I know doesn’t have kids. While that’s anecdotal, I think it’s a pretty common trend in my generation.

        1. Could be. I think it’s probably some of both.

          I don’t have kids because of a combination of self-centered-ness, and fear that I’d just be constantly pissed off about all the people who think they get to tell me how to raise my children.

          1. When you do you should send them to public school

            😉

      2. Well when even asking a girl out who doesn’t want to be asked out is now sexual assault, why would we not expect birth numbers to decrease?

      3. “How can I bring a baby into this world?”

        I’ve heard this. It’s one of the more stupid ideas out there. We are in a golden age and there are still people who complain about it. If not now, there is no time in history these people would ever have wanted children.

    2. Off the top of my head, Pew consistently finds that while Millenials do want kids, we often have barriers that didn’t used to be there or have gotten worse.

      So the desire isn’t gone, it’s just delayed. Which, of course, is going to cause problems because for women there’s only so long you can put it off.

      But it’s not a lack of desire.

      1. I question the ranking of it though versus other desires. It’s not that they are intrinsically opposed to the idea of a child. But I wonder how high it ranks in the list of things they want.

        1. Which is not to say it’s not a combination of the two, or even that I’m wrong. Just that I’ve so often seen polls where people are asked if they want X. They say “yes” in high numbers. Then they’re asked if they’d want X if they have to give up Y, and the number cuts in half.

          1. You’ve expressed the desire to sire on here before. I hope it happens for you, BUCS, you’d make a great dad. Just promise to burn your browser history first.

      2. I think most people like the idea of having kids in principle, but are hesitant to pull the trigger, so to speak.

        Part of it might be that people are still figuring out how birth control fits into everything. For most of human history kids were just what happened when you start having sex with someone regularly. Now it’s something people can plan and schedule and put off very easily. So you get a lot of people who keep saying “someday” and then all of a sudden they’re 40 and wonder what the hell happened (or maybe that’s just me).

        1. I think most people like the idea of having kids in principle, but are hesitant to pull the trigger, so to speak.

          It’s called edging.

        2. I’m not hesitant, it’s just at the tail-end of the five-year plan.

          I got the stable job, I just got the house. Now we just need to get the guest house so I can get my sister out of the house. And then we need to decide whether we’re saving for adoption or surrogacy and get serious about our debate over the moral and ethical implications of both.

          But it’s in the plan!

          1. But adoption isn’t having a kid. It’s recycling.

            1. It’s having a kid in all the ways that actually matter. Don’t insult adoption you fuckhead.

              1. I don’t think he’s insulting adoption, merely pointing out that adopting a child (which I have done) is not adding to the population as a whole (which I have also done)

      3. Delay it enough, and it doesn’t make any difference what the desire is.
        Make it difficult enough, and the children simply won’t be born.
        Empowering men as fathers in law might help.

    3. Fear of having them taken away because someone else thinks you’re raising them wrong…

      1. Why not have a kid? Wages are rising and prices of necessities are falling, er… never mind.

        1. Well, I’m not going to have a kid because I’m not married any more, and hey, I’m just traditional like that.

          Plus, I can barely take care of myself. So, probably not a good idea to have a kid. Or even get a cat.

      2. What perlchpr said.

        Example: I let my 4 year old wade in water as deep as the top of his foot and a woman working at the beach basically forced me to put a life jacket on him lest she flip out and do god knows what. I have many more examples equally as galling.

    4. ‘Moray’ – is spelled ‘mores’

      1. that sort of spelling makes me feel eel

    5. Most things we do that seem like a chore or that we could screw up ate done because risk or displeasure is outweighed by reward.

      Social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and welfare for old people removes the benefit to having more kids – someone to care for you when you are old. It’s why societies have generally taken it as a social responsibility to care for widows whose children have died.

      Expanding those services to all elderly breaks the system.

      Wealthy people who can afford end of life care without children may or may not have kids without any burden on society.

      Elderly more likely to need help in the future are more inclined to produce kids. If they have to rely on them, they are more inclined to make them productive.

      The work must be tied to a reward that our modern welfare state has simply removed from the equation.

  4. I’m sure abortion doesn’t enter into this at all.

    1. No. Without legal abortion, legal abortions would just be replaced by illegal ones, and by people being moe careful about not conceiving in the first place.

    2. Abortion should be illegal with risks of getting one self-selecting. Survival of the fittest.

      1. Authoritarian Right says FUCK Equal, Unalienable and/or God-Given Rights.
        (to nobody’s surprise)

  5. Is ~310 million people in America not enough people?

    280 million people?

    200 million people?

    I for one look forward to a smaller tax base for Democrats and Republicans to take from us and less traffic on the roads.

    1. That’s an interesting take on declining population.

      I just think people should do what they are going to do. We’ll adjust to whatever happens with population. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a little more space and peace either. But there will be some pain in the adjustment.

      1. See that’s the thing I don’t get about these over/under population arguments. Neither effect is going to happen like a bomb blast going off. The effects will take decades to manifest, over which time the population will adjust its expectations on how life is supposed to work. I assume that is how it has happened for millennia of human history before the last few hundred years where we developed sufficient means to idly think about it.

    2. I for one look forward to a smaller tax base for Democrats and Republicans to take from us and less traffic on the roads.

      We’ve already accrued debt that we couldn’t pay off in our lifetimes, what makes you think a smaller tax based would stop authoritarians from authoritating? It’s fewer uppity nails needing hammered down as far as they’re concerned.

    3. I just want all those dang kids to get off my durn lawn.

  6. The real thing that pisses off Democrats is that all their anti-black family programs are failing.

    More and more Black men are employed.
    More and more Black fathers are participating in raising their kids.
    More and more Black women are employed.
    More and more Black mothers are getting off welfare.

    1. Welfare and Inner-City Projects were just another way for Democrats to farm Blacks, like they did in the Antebellum. Only this time the product is votes instead of cotton.

      Keep them dependent and indoctrinated and you have a reliable vote plantation.

      1. I’m not so sure that economic success alone will cause black voters to become Republicans – see Jewish and LGBT voting patters, for example.

        1. As long as they are eager church-goers, it might.

  7. Stone’s novel idea to solve Social Security insolvency is to adopt a “fertility dividend” that would make “a portion of a person’s Social Security benefit dependent not on their earnings but on their offspring’s earnings.”

    You know what else would solve Social Security insolvency?

    1. Stop siphoning?

    2. Nothing. Pyramid schemes never last forever.

    3. Soylent Green?

    4. Soylent Green

      and squirrels

    5. Hunger games and rewards for taking out fellow seniors.

    6. Death panels?

    7. Universal Basic Income?

  8. thus rewarding retirees based on child contributions

    1. Kind of like we do now.
    2. Fuck this guy.

  9. “Is the solution a “fertility dividend” that makes a portion of a person’s Social Security benefit dependent on each of their offspring’s earnings?”

    Take money away from people in order to return it to them later, except if they don’t jump through the hoops you set up for them, they don’t get the money you took from them back?

    Nice.

    1. To be fair, we’re not getting any of it back anyway, since there won’t be any left by the time we retire.

      So it doesn’t actually matter what stupid rules they come up with, we’re fucked anyway. My “retirement plan” involves a bottle of sleeping pills and a large zip-tie.

      1. Depends on what you mean by “getting any of it back”.

        In the sense of “it’s money int he bank, I want to pull that out”? Yeah, no, that’s never been how Social Security works.

        In the sense that when you get around to retiring there won’t be a SS anymore? Eh… the current projections and numbers have the trust fund being depleted somewhere around 2030. But since there will still be people paying into it, Social Security will also (absent Congressional intervention) also still be paying out of it, just at a lesser rate then the current formula provides for.

        So it’s likely that should you otherwise qualify for Social Security when you retire, you’ll get something, just not 100% of what the current formula promises if it’s after 2030 or thereabouts.

        1. Yeah, I think I’m scheduled to qualify for retirement in 30 more years. I’m not expecting SS to still have anything even resembling solvency in 2048.

          But I bet Amazon will still carry zip-ties.

          1. This is ALMOST as WACKY as Cato’s 6.2% Solution.
            Every worker keeps and invests their half of the Social Security tax.

            Right-wing goobers SWALLOW bat-shit crazy schemes. Because Left – Right = Zero


  10. Oddly, Stone mentions only in passing that immigration could substantially ameliorate his economic concerns so long as fertility in other countries remains above replacement.

    That is odd since it’s basically the Democrats plan for the United States.

  11. >>>rate last seen in the early 1970s.

    mass hysteria!

    1. I for one welcome a return to the 1970’s, assuming we can avoid gas shortages.

      1. And the bombings?

        1. I think 9/11 and shootings may have made up the difference.

        2. and the orange and green kitchens

  12. Comparisons with other western countries undercut the salience of Stone’s list of five fertility-reducing factors a bit. Consider increasing student debt: In many European countries student debt is indeed rising, but university tuition and student living costs are still quite low. One particularly interesting case is Germany, where the expected cost of an undergraduate degree is about $2,200, and student debt is approximately $2,400. The German fertilty rate just hit a 43-year high at 1.5 children per woman. Meanwhile, no tuition and fees for public university education are charged in Brazil (TFR 1.73), Denmark (TFR 1.71), Finland (TFR 1.65 ), Norway (TFR 1.72), Poland (TFR 1.32), or Hungary (TFR 1.45).

    I’m dubious as to the relevance of these comparisons. It’s very much and apples-to-mystery fruit comparison. Namely, if a bachelor’s degree in Germany costs $2200 how do they carry $2400 in student debt? $4600 actual total cost? Multiple degrees? Recent drop in the cost of tutition? Moreover, $2400 in student debt but garnished lifetime wages to keep tuition costs at $2200 and a lifetime spent working, rather than having kids, to keep those costs in check still ain’t exactly libertopia.

    1. Hey, education in Germany may be free but beer still costs money.

  13. Right, because who doesn’t think “how will this help my retirement?” when deciding whether or not to put a condom on.

    I mean, seriously folks, yes, Millennials are worried about financial stability before having kids. Potentially making their retirement more secure isn’t going to change that calculation.

  14. “He hints that future parents may end up coping with the implosion of social welfare the old-fashioned way, that is, by bearing more children who can take care of them in their dotage.”

    Or, they might save and purchase insurance!

  15. Why has nobody pointed out the obvious? To make babies, you have to get it on, a lot…And between the countless distractions, especially free online porn and gaming, #Metoo making guys too scared to even ask a girl out on a date, and declining fertility as the millennials get older, this is a perfect storm for a baby bust. The question is though that with people living longer than they used to, and fewer employment opportunities for the young, do we really need replacement level anymore?

    1. Until we get to functional immortality, we probably do need replacement levels. Or at least, have an idea of what a “stable population” looks like, and be willing to get back to replacement levels when we reach it.

      1. Until we get to functional immortality, we probably do need replacement levels.

        Right up until the point of full functional immortality, you’ll still need replacement levels. Technically, you can’t know you’ve reached immortality without either extinction and/or replacement levels.

        1. Eh.

          I’d hedge with “probably” since, as overall population shrinkage would probably be tolerable in the run-up.

          And I’m not sure about your “technically”, but surely you’ve heard some variant of this joke:

          A mathematician and a plumber are put into a room. On the other side from both of them is a beautiful naked woman. They’re told that with each step, they can close half the distance between themselves and the woman.

          The mathematician objects, “but we’ll never get there!”

          The plumber replies, “but we’ll get close enough!”

  16. Is the solution a “fertility dividend” that makes a portion of a person’s Social Security benefit dependent on each of their offspring’s earnings?

    If we’re going to do that, why not just make it so that you’re entitled to a flat percentage of your offspring’s income. Say 1%. No waiting until retirement. Then that will not only encourage people to have more offspring, ensure they’re productive offspring, and ensure they have them early and often.

  17. So what is driving U.S. fertility rates lower? Stone suggests five reasons: Increasing student debt, decreasing young adult homeownership, rising years enrolled in tertiary education, higher childcare costs, and cultural mores requiring intensive parenting.

    None of that is driving a fertility dump.

    Its that having children is not as satisfying as people like to claim it is. Which is why you start to see a MASSIVE drop in fertility once a nation reaches a (by our standards fairly low) certain level of economic success. Once people are no longer dependent upon their children to support them in their old age, the incentive to have children is significantly lessened and they stop having large families with in a generation or two.

    We’ve created a ‘safety net’ that is so comprehensive that most people barely even need to work – of course they’re not going to stop smoking pot and playing videogames long enough to think about raising a kid.

  18. Having kids, and particularly having kids who get a good education and a good job, would directly enhance a person’s retirement prospects. An individual’s choice to have children does more to keep Social Security solvent for the future than even high earnings during their working years, and thus rewarding retirees based on child contributions would more closely align the incentives of current workers and families with the actuarial needs of intergenerational social insurance plans such as Social Security and Medicare.

    None of which is true if your kids end up on welfare.

    1. and having kids with good jobs already enhances your retirement prospects, because they can help you out. government not needed

  19. No mention of the declining marriage rate? Not even a comparison of the fertility rates of single vs. married?

    I mean the economic arguments are fine, but isn’t this avoiding the elephant in the room?

    1. Given the soaring percentage of out of wedlock birth, I’m not sure the elephant really IS in the room at this point.

      1. Rates have stabilized or on a modest decline.

        And it is hard to reconcile a soaring out of wedlock birth rate and a declining total fertility overall.

        Seems to imply marriage is a major contributor to fertility rates.

    2. it’s not so myuch a declining marriage rate, but getting married in your late 30s instead of early 20s

  20. Roughly, the total fertility rate (TFR) is a calculation of how many kids a woman beginning her childbearing years now would have over her whole life if current birth rates remain stable.

    Are they including women who were previously men, or women who are currently men?

    1. Generals, we have a gyno gap.

  21. The chief anti-natal policy is old age pensions.

    Having children was the original old age pension, you had them, raised them to feel responsible for you, and then they took care of you in your old age.

    However, old age pensions create the illusion that you don’t need to have children to be supported in your old age. I say illusion, because SOMEBODY still needs to have children. But no longer any particular person.

    In effect, programs like social security turn the next generation into a commons. Underproduction of children is the inevitable result, like with any product where the benefits are socialized, but the costs remain largely individual.

    It’s a bit of a trap, though, because any move to do anything about this, (setting SS payments according to the taxes paid by one’s children would be effective.) is politically infeasible. I don’t see a good way out of the trap.

    1. +1000

      Always interesting comments Brett.

    2. Typical right-wing bullshit.

      Before Social Security, most people were dead in their early 60s. Umm, how many retired BEFORE Social Security. (DUH)
      I see you suckered that other anti-gumming rube, lc1789

      1. Before Social Security, most people were dead in their early 60s.

        Wow. Somebody who doesn’t understand what ‘average life expectancy’ means.

        1. Average Life Expectancy …. AT WHAT AGE?

          There’s average life expectancy at birth.
          At various ages, like every 10 years.

          Take a wild guess. Is Average Life Expectancy at Birth the same as Age 85???

          CHECK GOOGLE There are calculators for YOUR CURRENT AGE (or any other)

          So what did I use, and how do you know?

  22. When women attack men for everything they do, men tend to not want to deal with women.

    That includes having kids.

    1. MEN are no longer horny .. according to the wacko right!

      EVERYTHING is an excuse for bullshit propaganda by the brainwashed gullibles.

    2. Russian women!

      They steal elections AND get you off.

  23. WHAT?

    Without immigration, our population would be declining.
    So, President Dumbass is FUCKING our grandchildren on FICA taxes.

    Not JUST his worst-debt-ever Republican New Deal!

    How STOOPID is his base?
    Now even worse than Democrats! ARRRGGGH

    1. Huh, well that’s one way to promote indentured servitude as a way out of our fiscal mess.

    2. Hi, Hihnsock!

      1. Sorry, guys.
        I cannot dumb it down to your level.

    3. Get out of here with your old man problems, you geezer.

      1. whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh

    4. So, Ponzi scheme is exposed and you blame a lack of new victims?

      1. Hey anti-gummint goober, learn what Negative Birthrate means (snort)

        Then have a 12-year-old explain how declining population increases FICA taxes to support YOUR sorry ass … MOOCH.

        So … if we have negative birthrates ,… and population would be declining without no immigration

        So … Trumptards are literally screwing their own kids … ENTITLEMENT MOOCHES
        (but as we see, too stooopid to do the elementary school math)

        Do we get more bellowing?

  24. Why don’t they just pay women to have kids? We’ll raise the money to pay for it with a tax on kids. The perfect perpetual motion machine…

  25. This is an incredibly stupid idea, even if was pragmatic. Having a larger population solves nothing. It’s a freaking Ponzi scheme! Getting more people into a Ponzi scheme only delays the day of reckoning, and makes the problem worse. The only way to fix Social Security’s funding deficit, assuming we want to minimize, and eventually eliminate, the use of general funds to solve the problem, is to make each participant self-funding. How about we try that for a change?

    1. Umm, the entire US population can live in Texas, at the same population density an NYC. THE END IS NEAR!

      , the use of general funds to solve the problem, is to make each participant self-funding. How about we try that for a change?Totally ,…. absolutely … undeniably … STUPID. MAKES IT WORSE!!!!

      For hard numbers, use Cato’s “6.2% solution” — to see how easy it is to brainwash anti-gummint goobers,
      Everyone keeps half their SS tax (6.2%) and invests it. Michael Tanner, who is as stupid as Ron Paul, says there will be temporary startup costs. Who much and for how long.

      Social Security starts by losing prox $400 billion in revenues. Umm, those current revenues are dedicated to current benefits. That’s just half the stupidity.

      The startup (first-year) cost is prox $400 billion. But that’s temporary (it declines slowly, from $400 billion, over THIRTY YEARS!)

      NONE of that is rocket science

      Is it tribal to deny libertarian tribalism?

      1. You ever been to NYC you old geezer? I bet you live in Iowa.

        1. How many times can JoeBlow132 be THIS stupid on a single page?

          the entire US population can live in Texas, at the same population density an NYC.

          You ever been to NYC you old geezer?

          WHY WOULD I HAVE TO, Sonny??
          Ever hear of Google?

          1) Population density nyc 26,403 per square mile.
          2) Texas size 268,820 square miles
          3) MULTIPLY (get a 12-year-old to help you)
          4) 26,403 x 268,920= 7.1 BILLION PEOPLE!!!

          WAIT FOR IT …

          WORLD POPULATION (2017) 7.5 BILLION
          YOU SAY THE US COULD NOT ALL LIVE IN TEXAS.
          95% OF THE ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD CAN FIT
          THE U.S. CAN FIT … 21 TIMES?!!!!

          Anything else?

          1. I do not do math. I do not recognize these numbers. I reject your reality and insert my own.

            1. How many times can JoeBlow132 be THIS stupid on a single page?

              One more! (So far)

              1. It is hard to quantify insanity,

          2. The great thing about Hihn is that he cannot keep from blowing his cover, so his little screeds are easy to ignore.

            1. (sneer) BRAGS about refusing PROVEN facts .. that prove how stupid he is.
              Repeat the lame Hihn conspiracy favored by conservatards

              Libertarians post FACTS. Goobers squeal like 12-year-old pussies

  26. “decreasing young adult homeownership”

    If only there were a policy that decreased foreigners contributing to the demand for homes and the supply of labor.

  27. maybe we should not have murdered 60 million babies!

    1. Ummm, nobody did that. And you’re drooling.

      1. no, they murdered them before they became babies

        1. That’s even crazier. Goober AGAIN shits on Equal, Unalienable and/or God-Given Rights,
          (vomit)

        2. Lefties dont like the consequences of their actions.

          Denial is a valuable tool for them to ignore all the firing squads Socialism has used to “solve” problems.

  28. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

    1. not foreign spam at all, no way for the squirrels to weed this out

  29. Like we need more people.

    And the reason people have fewer kids now is because they think they can rely on SS when they are retired.

    1. As they teach in high school, fertility rates are connected to incomes and living standards.

      That’s why 75% of the developing countries will have below-replacement birth rates — in 30 years,
      And at the current tends, even the poorest African nations will have negative birth rates in 60 years.

      FACTS: Children per women (worldwide)
      1964 = 5.1
      2016 = 2.4 (2.1 is replacement, below that is declining population WORLDWIDE)

      But, for many, bloviating is more fun. And easier.
      And inventing wacko conspiracies about libruls. I think I counted nine separate fairy tales.

    2. We do need more people. Who will become cannon fodder in the next war if we don’t have young people to fill the Armed Forces?

  30. Love all of the attempts to look at this issue as left vs right. That is of minimal importance.

    There has been a generational shift from the times of the greatest generation and those before them. With more prosperity to be had, many are finding that placing all of their energy, time (that includes career/experience time-cost of having kids early, which is significant) and money into their kids is…well, fucking lame.

    The amount you can do, see, and accomplish in life as well as your preparedness to be a responsible parent / role model with some actual life lessons to drop on your kids is minimal in your early 20’s. It’s pretty damn good in your early 30’s (depending on whether you are a productive person or a useless one). That secret has been out for a while now, and more people are embracing it. There just isn’t as much time to pop out a football team worth of kids when you start late, and those that start late likely don’t want that many anyways; they have other great things to do as well.

  31. The solution to social security is to phase it out and ensure that the government is no longer in the pension business.

    1. That’s not a solution, it’s anti-gummint gooberism
      If you can’t elect a Congress on it, you’re just masturbating in a closet.

  32. If this is a problem, here is a solution.

    Unchaperoned, co-ed slumber parties for people between the ages of fourteen and nineteen.

    No condoms provided.

  33. Nobody seems to factor in the huge disincentives to men under our family laws in having children.
    Do they really think that men are unaware of current state of custody decision and child support laws, not to mention alimony and whatever else landmines are hiding in domestic relations law.
    Discrimination is rampant against men in reproductive law, the law turns men into wage slaves if the mother decides she wants it that way.
    Seems like everyone forgot, it actually takes two genders to make a baby.
    If you make it untenable and men disposable in having children, then no children will had.

  34. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .
    http://www.geosalary.com

  35. IOW, let’s find another excuse to increase entitlement spending.

  36. This is the market doing its thing. We do not need a centralized command economy controlling childbirth. Government’s need to stop peeking under women’s skirts. It is time for population growth to naturally slow if it is inclined to do so. We need to get out of the way and let it happen.

  37. This is the market doing its thing. We do not need a centralized command economy controlling childbirth. Government’s need to stop peeking under women’s skirts. It is time for population growth to naturally slow if it is inclined to do so. We need to get out of the way and let it happen.

  38. Lyman Stone ignored one huge factor: religion. In the USA, perhaps he thinks the Amish have huge families because they are rural, but they also have larger families than most of their rural neighbors. And urban Mennonites, the most devout Catholics, and adherents of other fundamentalist religions have more children than the average.

    So maybe the reason the USA has a higher birth-rate than most First-World countries is that the USA is on the average more religious. Many of these countries have an Established Religion, but the general effect of that seems to be that the tax-supported state religion gets lip service and is used as a public utility for weddings and funerals, but has few real believers and few that change their behavior according to their professed faith.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.