I read an article a few days ago about “America’s Falling Fertility Rate”. My curiosity was piqued by the title, so I read on. Turns out that women in the U.S. are having fewer babies than at any time in recorded history. Okay, so … the earth is overpopulated, there are some 330 million people in the U.S. … what’s the problem? Fewer people is better, at least in my book.
According to the experts, a replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple is necessary to sustain a country’s population, and at present the U.S. is only achieving 1.705 births per woman while Britain, Canada, France, and Australia all had fertility rates below 1.9. So? Again … what’s the problem?
Given the effects of humans on the environment and given that people in some parts of the world are dying of hunger due to the lack of arable land on which to grow food, it seems to me that lowering the rate of population growth could well contribute to saving the planet. Oh, but wait … silly me, I wasn’t considering the wealthy corporations!
Some experts are calling this phenomenon “a demographic time bomb.” In coming years, lower fertility rates could have profound economic consequences, with employers lacking sufficient workers to grow the economy. Le GASP! Oh damn! Microsoft and Apple won’t have enough workers to invent more useless software and market it for 5,000% of what it’s actually worth, and Wally World (aka Wal-Mart) will have to scale back on some of the junk they sell! The world’s richest dudes will start losing money instead of languishing in obscene profits! And they will learn, perhaps, to live a little less extravagantly, to appreciate their employees, maybe even to pay them a living wage.
So, why are women having fewer children today? According to the article in The Week …
A complex set of factors has driven down birth rates for almost all age groups of women — except for those in their late 30s and early 40s. As more women pursue college and advanced degrees and devote their 20s to career building, the mean age at which women have their first birth reached a record high of 26.9 in 2018. The Census Bureau reported that from 2000 to 2019 the number of 25-year-olds who had obtained a master’s degree doubled to 21 million and the number of those pursuing doctorates more than doubled. In a 2020 survey of thousands of women who delayed childbirth, 3 in 5 cited their desire to reach a certain job title or level before starting a family. Many feminists say this is necessary because many employers sideline mothers. Ashley Stahl, a career coach, points to a Princeton University study showing that for every child a woman has, her earnings potential falls 4 percent.
The article goes on to say that housing plays a significant role …
The National Bureau of Economic Research says that the largest component of child-rearing costs is housing. And the cost of housing in America has skyrocketed. The median U.S. home in 1953 cost $18,080, or about $177,000 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the median home price is $301,000. Young people who cannot afford homes or even a two-bedroom apartment are less inclined to marry and to have children. One 2014 study published in the Journal of Public Economics explicitly linked housing costs to fertility, suggesting that for every $10,000 jump in housing values, fertility among nonowners fell 2.4 percent.
Now, I fail to see the problem. As a person who is deeply concerned about what humans have done and are continuing to do to the environment, I can only conclude that fewer humans on this earth is a positive thing. Fewer humans = fewer cars, fewer airplanes, fewer trees being cut down, less pollution. As a supporter of animal rights and protecting the earth, again I see fewer humans leading to fewer species becoming extinct as a result of human activities. Perhaps this is Mother Nature’s way of leveling the playing field. I realize that the majority of people do not likely share my opinion, but rather see the growth of the human species as invaluable and essential. I also realize that to a degree, my view of this complex issue is somewhat simplistic.
In my view, fewer humans means more trees, healthier animals, cleaner air and water … a healthier planet in general. It may also mean that the planet can better sustain all the people on earth, that nobody will be without food, water, and fresh air. Let’s learn to appreciate the truly finer things in life, the things that man, in all his greed and arrogance, is in the process of destroying.