The birth rate in America is on the rise. Although the article reports only a record number of births, but not the birth rate, you can do the math yourself with the data provided for annual births and see that the rate is on the rise. And the fertility rate is rising too. It’s up to 2.1 births per female. This is far in excess of the 1.79 needed to attain population stability (along with a dramatic decrease in immigration). Why less than 2.0? Because of the steadily increasing life expectancy. If life expectancy were holding steady, 2.0 births per female is the rate needed for a stable population. But, because each generation is living longer than the previous, the fertility rate must drop below 2.0. (Consider the extreme: if life expectancy approached infinity, then the fertility rate would have to fall to zero. If no one ever died, there would be no room for anyone to have children.)
For some good news on this topic, just scan the comments at the end of the article. The vast majority are written by people concerned about population growth. Clearly, attitudes have changed and people are concerned about overpopulation. The time is right for our nation’s leaders to open a dialogue with the American people about population. How many is too many? Can our standard of living and quality of life really be maintained in an environment of unending population growth? Can real progress be made toward energy independence and toward mitigating climate change if we keep adding more and more oil consumers? Will any of our problems be easier to solve with a larger population? It’s going to take a lot of courage to be the first politician to broach the subject, but the time has come.