The Mystery of the Declining U.S. Birth Rate | Econofact

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Little surprise, based on the initial comments here saying “it’s because no one can afford them hurr durr,” that people again aren’t reading an article beyond the headline: **Casual observers have suggested that a variety of potential factors are responsible for the decline,** i**ncluding** greater take-up of highly effective contraception, **the high cost of raising children**, improved occupational opportunities for women, and the high level of student debt carried by young adults. **Our research finds little empirical support for these possible explanations.** Moreover, none of the measures that have been shown in previous research to have a causal effect on annual birth rates – such as labor market conditions (beyond the Great Recession), certain social policy indicators (such as child support enforcement) or reproductive health policy measures (such as abortion clinic closures) – have changed in ways that can account for the drop in the national birth rate since 2007. I haven’t dug deep into their actual research article to see how they come to this conclusion, but this is actually pretty interesting either way (and matches similar observations in places like the nordic countries where much more financial support is provided for those who have children).


Editor’s Note: The analysis in this memo is based on Kearney, Melissa S., Phillip B. Levine, and Luke Pardue. 2022. “The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates since the Great Recession.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 36 (1): 151-76.


Isn’t this a, relative, good thing? Sure, some systems were created assuming infinite growth like SS and those systems will need to adapt to reality but having the nation with the greatest per capita greenhouse gas generation have fewer people seems like it will be pretty good for the environment.


Among few other obvious reasons, I think one of the underrated & overlooked reason is – the awareness & realization of reduced infant mortality has a lag and is only kicking in now. Basically, the fact that before couples used to have an extra backup child in case of the elder ones dies. With medical advancement & awareness that this is no longer needed, this generation is not going for the backup anymore. Combine this with the fact that the backup costs you an arm & a leg to raise, its a straight-forward decision.