Posted on: May 9, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

We’re discussing this article (and beyond) on CorporetteMoms today too, but the conversation has a different flavor over there!

Did you catch the story in The Wall Street Journal [gift link] a couple of weeks ago that addressed falling birth rates? The WSJ reported that the birth rate among American women has fallen to 1.62 per woman — the lowest since the 1930s when the government began keeping track. (The article does note this: “The figures are provisional and likely to adjust slightly when final data are released later this year.”)

One more striking stat: In 1950, in the midst of the baby boom, the crude birth rate was 24.1 per 1,000 people, and by 2018, it had dropped to 11.6, according to Pew Research. This is a major issue for other industrialized countries as well — today CNN reported that South Korea’s fertility rate (a bit different than birth rate) is so low at 0.72 in 2023 that the government may create a Ministry of Low Birth Rate Counter-planning. (Hmm, that feels a bit Handmaid’s Tale.)

We thought we’d use the WSJ article as a jumping-off point for a discussion today. (Btw, it’s a coincidence that this post is in the same week as Mother’s Day! BUT if you need gift ideas, check out our recent gift ideas open thread, which ALSO coincidentally was published on the day the WSJ story came out.)

Here are two key excerpts from the WSJ article:

The decline reflects a continuing trend as American women navigate economic and social challenges that have prompted some to forgo or delay having children. A confluence of factors are at play. American women are having fewer children, later in life. Women are establishing fulfilling careers and have more access to contraception.

At the same time, young people are also more uncertain about their futures and spending more of their income on homeownership, student debt and child care. Some women who wait to have children might have fewer than they would have otherwise for reasons including declining fertility.

* * *

The long-term effects of lowering rates could shape the economy, programs including Social Security and other facets of American life, said Phillip Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley College. “It has the ability to have a significant impact on the way we live for a long time to come,” he said.

* * *

Is anyone really surprised by this news? Just thinking about the most likely factors becomes daunting: the the current and future impact of climate change, the crises and wars around the world, abortion bans and associated restrictions on maternal care, discrimination against pregnant employees and working mothers, inadequate government support for families, employers providing inadequate paid family leave, and so on.

So, let’s discuss:

Readers who are planning to have kids: Are you waiting longer to do so — longer than you expected? If you are waiting, how much are you worried about declining fertility? Have you thought about freezing your eggs?

Alternately, if you’re not sure whether you want kids — or don’t ever want them — how much is your career a factor, and how much of your decision stems from one or more of the factors listed above — if at all?

Stock photo via Pexels / cottonbro studio.

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