The U.S. Fertility Rate Is Plummeting. Here’s Why

While it comes as no surprise, new data published this month confirms a historic decline in childbearing. Specifically, women are having fewer babies and are choosing to give birth at older ages.

At the end of 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan used his weekly news briefing to urge Americans to have larger families. His words—

“This is going to be the new economic challenge for America: People. We need to have higher birth rates in this country. We have something like a 90-percent increase in the retirement population of America, but only a 19-percent increase in the working population in America. So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology … still going to need more people.”

His comments were met with general disparagement—particularly from women.

Christine Emba, a Washington Post columnist, wrote, “2017 draws to a close. ‘Feminism’ has been declared the word of the year. And House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has just urged women to have more babies for the good of the state. A joke? An outtake from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’? Alas, neither.”

But Ryan’s concerns about the plummeting fertility rate are proving to be on point. America’s fertility rates are collapsing, and the obvious answer is: Have more children.

The Report

Earlier this month, the CDC released a report saying that the U.S. fertility rate—also known as the estimated number of children a woman will give birth to in her lifetime—has fallen 18 percent since 2017. Declines are seen in urban and rural areas as well as across all races, meaning every population segment is affected.

Theories and finger-pointing abound, but most of the suggested reasons for the decline in birth rate include the following:

  • growing professional opportunities for women
  • increased academic opportunities for women
  • rising costs associated with raising children
  • less financial stability (for the current generation vs. older generations)

Partisan political opinions exist for the decline as well. Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson blames immigration, saying—

“Part of the reason for [the plummeting fertility rate] is mass immigration. More than a million new immigrants enter this country every year legally. A large but unknown number, illegally. Most of them are low-skilled; all of them are looking for work. These new arrivals compete primarily with the very Americans most likely to have lost their jobs, and the effect is lower wages.”

He goes on to explain, “One well-regarded study released last year found that when men’s wages fell relative to women’s, families didn’t form. According to the authors, a falling male wage reduced quote, ‘the attractiveness of men as potential spouses thus reducing fertility and especially marriage rates.'”

The Result

Regardless of who is responsible for the decline or why it is happening, the truth remains: We are in the midst of a national baby bust.

John Rowe, a professor of health policy and aging at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, spoke to The Washington Post about the declining fertility rate. He predicted that rates will continue to drop, and he believes we should be prepared to deal with the impact on the work force and on Social Security, but he does not believe it’s time to panic. Pointing to countries like Japan and Germany—who are also dealing with low fertility rates—he points to their ability to properly manage smaller workforces.

In Rowe’s words, “The emphasis should not just be on the number of people but their productivity. So we have to invest in education to enhance the productivity of younger individuals to compensate for reduction in numbers.”

Our Response

Christians have historically maintained a different outlook on the reason for having children. While having children is politically and economically expedient, it is first Biblical. The first direction God gave Adam and Even in Genesis 1 was to have children—

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiple and fill the earth and subdue it.”

That said, the Christian response to the current decline in childbirth should be simply three things:

  • Don’t panic.
    Professor John Rowe was right. This is not the time for alarmism.
  • Keep having children.
    God’s design is always best, and it is His design for us to have children.
  • Trust God.
    None of what is happening in our world today is taking God by surprise.

Bottom line: Scripture is filled with references to God’s blessing being associated with children, proving once again, a nation is healthiest when it heeds God’s commands.

~ Christian Patriot Daily