This article is from mid-2021, but addresses a timely issue given the prominence of “replacement theory” among much of the right.

Joe Pinsker at the Atlantic writes:

The two main ways to help people have the babies they want are to give them time and give them money. A country can offer financial support in the form of cash and tax credits; it can also promote job flexibility by funding parental-leave and child-care programs, and providing job protections to parents who opt into part-time work. These strategies, demographers told me, address two core reasons why many people who want kids hesitate to have them: because they can’t afford to, and because they don’t want to compromise on their career.

What’s notable about Pinsker’s framing of the issue is his focus on evidence and individual preference. Pinsker is primarily concerned that adults feel like they cannot afford to have as many kids as they prefer, rather than fretting about racial or cultural ‘replacement’ or geopolitical power. It’s also notable that the solution he promotes is to provide straight-forward economic assistance to parents rather than attempting to shame or coerce women into having more kids as Fox’s pundits or Republican politicians do.

I found a few other interesting facts while browsing the web for information (I don’t have all citations, but the PRB is good).

  • The US birthrate dropped below replacement levels after the 2008 recession, and took another hit from the pandemic during the 2020 but rebounded during 2021.
  • The low US birth-rate is not limited to white people (unlike what racial fear-mongers suggest)
  • Low birth rates are seen in many other countries, including Europe and the Caribbean, with some East Asian nations having the lowest birth rates.

Some recent news also has me wondering about some specific factors that may be stopping people from having more kids, including

  • rising maternal mortality (which has more than doubled since 1980, and is likely to get higher as states ban abortion)
  • The strong incentive to move around the country during young adulthood in order to advance one’s career and achieve financial stability – something that is harder with kids and separates would-be parents from potential family assistance.
  • The rising cost of housing – in addition to health care and schooling.

If we are concerned about the societal consequences of low birth rates (and I’m not sure that I am), then we, as a society should at least make concrete efforts to assure that everyone who wants kids is able to have them… instead of letting politicians use this as another culture war issue to divide us.

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