WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2013

USA is slowly having more children

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According to USA Today, there are some signs of increasing confidence in America. That is because the US Fertility Forecast report released by Demographic Intelligence has shown an upward tick. It has moved from a 25 year low of 1.89 children per woman to an almost 25 year low of 1.90 children per women! Obviously, the confidence is only increasing slowly...

 In the wake of the “Great Recession” (I didn’t know that we were calling it that already...) the fertility rate in the US dropped as people lost confidence in the economic future of the country and the world:

“The fertility rate ‘says something about people's optimism for the future — their optimism about their economic circumstances,’ says demographer Mark Mather of the not-for-profit Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

"Historically, we've seen fertility trends move up and down with economic indicators," Mather says. "During the Great Depression, we saw fertility rates drop. We saw it again during the Great Recession.

‘It is quite possible that we'll see a bump in the fertility rate since the economy is improving and people are feeling better about jobs,’ Mather says. ‘The bigger question is, Will that be sustained in the long run?'"

I would have thought the bigger question is: is there are bump at all? Or is this just a statistical anomaly – I mean, we’re talking of an increase in fertility rates of around 0.5% here...and still the US is around 10% below the rate considered necessary for natural stability in a population: 2.1 children per woman.  So even if there has been a small uptick the USA is still relying on immigration to maintain a steady population. 

What is also interesting is the report’s conclusion that those who are regular attendees at religious services have a higher Total Fertility Rate than those who are not regular attendees:

“’Much of the downturn in births is related to economic factors, but economic factors do not affect the fertility decisions of all parents or future parents,’ Sturgeon says. ‘We started to wonder about various groups that might make fertility decisions based on other factors, and religious persons seemed to be a natural group, so we explored this with the data,’ he adds.

Among women aged 15-44, those who attend religious services weekly or more have 1.42 children, compared with the 1.11 children of women who rarely or never attend.

Women who attend religious services weekly intend to have 2.62 children, and those who rarely or never go want to have 2.10 children.

‘Partly because religious communities provide a family-friendly context to the women who attend them, religious women are more likely to have children and to bear a comparatively high share of the nation's children, compared to their less religious or secular peers,’ Sturgeon says.”

I wonder what Sturgeon means by a “family-friendly context” in religious communities? Is it that those sorts of communities are more likely to look upon children as unmitigated blessings rather that a cost or hindrance? Or is it that there is more support in such communities for the raising of children? Or is it that such communities are more likely to be positive and optimistic about the future and therefore more willing to bring children into the world? What are your thoughts?


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | children, economy, fertility rate, USA

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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 


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