Given that the American economy is still floundering, it's no surprise
than almost all of the unemployed, indebted twentysomethings there
aren't keen on having kids anytime in the foreseeable future.
According to USA Today, the fertility rate has plummeted to its lowest point in 25 years and isn't expected to rebound anytime in the next two years. While the fertility rates in other developed countries like Portugal
(1.3) and Taiwan (1.1) have caused those countries many headaches, the
U.S. has stayed close to a rate of 2.1, which is about the number of
children each woman needs to have in order to maintain the population.
Some observers worry about what will happen to the population if more and more adults stop having kids in their prime childbearing years. Stephanie Coontz at the Council on Contemporary Families thinks that low birthrates can be resolved by implementing public policy. She explains:
The more you delay [having children], the more you delay the possibility of a second or third child. This is probably a long-term trend that is exacerbated by the recession but also by the general hollowing out of middle-class jobs. There's a growing sense that college is prohibitively expensive, and yet your kids can't make it without a college degree, so many women may decide to have just one child. We have to think through our policies. We've got to provide better support systems for working mothers as well as fathers.
So unless the economy starts to pick up soon, America's birthrates could
be stunted for a long time. In 2007, birthrates were at a peak of 2.12
children per woman, but, as soon as the economy dipped, those rates fell
12%. They're expected to hit 1.87 this year and 1.86 in 2013.