If you scroll down your Facebook page right now, it probably seems like just about everyone is pregnant. However, that may not be the case. According to recent data from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, the United States fertility rate is the lowest ever recorded.
Here's fertility in the United States by the numbers:
With all the reproductive technologies available, why are women having less children, or not having children at all? Experts weigh in, and the potential results are frightening.
Economic Forces are Family Planning Forces
Everyone knows that starting a family is a great financial responsibility. After the Great Recession of 2007, the United States saw a drop in the fertility rate that many attribute to financial concerns around raising a child. Young adults had difficulty entering the workforce and finding affordable housing, and therefore decided to put off having children in an economically challenging time. This pattern has been present within periods of economic depression, recession, and surplus in the past, and is suggested to have contributed to the post-WWII Baby Boom.
With Women Empowered within their Careers, Fertility Rates Drop
We no longer live in a country where women are expected to be stay-at-home mothers and homemakers--and with this, our fertility goals are changing. With women empowered to make decisions regarding their career goals, having children is often put on the back burner while a woman grows with her career. Not to say that women are not having children at all, but many women are having children later until they reach the personal and professional goals they aspire for prior to entering motherhood.
Is Trump's America affecting the fertility rate?
President Donald Trump's suggested immigration policies vastly targeting Hispanics, in addition to existing economic concerns, are projected to discourage fertility among the Hispanic population--a population that has greatly boosted U.S. fertility rates.
In addition to smaller families and more professional women in the workforce, the Population Research Institute predicts significant economic consequences from the dropping U.S. fertility rate. Trump's crackdown on immigration will cause the replacement rate to drop as the 65-and-older population doubles over the next thirty years. This issue of the growing elder class ensures economic and social pressures in the coming decades.
In addition to a growing elder class, economists say that nearly one-third of annual economic growth is driven by new additions to the labor force. With fewer people entering the workforce, we could see a long period of stagnation and depression in the future.
When we say "children are the future" we really mean it! As we evaluate the shifting dynamics in childbearing and family make up in the United States, we must take into account not only the personal goals of couples, but the economic consequences of having children or not.