Bad News about Birth Rate, Good News in Readers’ Reactions

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-07-16-baby-boomlet_N.htm

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.

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4 Responses to Bad News about Birth Rate, Good News in Readers’ Reactions

  1. FJ says:

    Our standard of living is already decreasing. It’s more difficult – from the perspective a nearly 30-year old married male – to live the way our parents did. It’s difficult enough to try to have a kid these days without racking up huge amounts of debt but we are going to try and make it work by not buying into this American mommy/baby bullcrap that has created an industry of “MomZillas” (never mind Bridezillas!).

    Suburbs are now overcrowded, and cities are ridiculously expensive in terms of trying to live with a high standard of living, in areas of little violence (if those even exist anymore). The baby boomers will have enough equity to cash in for their retirement – well, some of them – but the generation they leave behind will be one with more debt than any generation before it. Easy money is never a good plan, and the lending giants who are trying to tie us up with higher and higher credit card bills & mortgages were just trying to pocket their own little piece until things started to fall apart. Now, they want to be bailed out with fiat money – big surprise.

    The best way to show one is serious about overpopulation is by ceasing to live like a typical American consumer: cook most of your own meals instead of going out, buy organic and LOCAL produce & meat whenever possible, don’t rack up credit card debt, and for God’s sake put down the TV remote and get outside. If everyone decided to live this way it might finally send the message to our politicians that more people does not always mean more money for them.

  2. Pete Murphy says:

    I think you’ve come down a little hard on moms and babies. True, some can be pretty surly, but I think a lot of it is due to the stress, some imposed by an over-crowded society and some self-imposed. There’s nothing wrong with having children. I don’t really care how many any one family has, as long as we get the overall birth rate where it needs to be to stabilize the population.

    I agree wholeheartedly on your approach to surviving in this crazy world. My wife and I have decided to put in a vegetable garden. A stumbling block has always been the question of how the garden would be tended while we’re away at the lake. The solution? We’re pooling our resources with our next-door neighbor who has been wanting to put in a garden too, but their back yard is too shaded. We’ve decided to put a large garden in a sunny spot in our back yard. We’ll share the cost of seeds and fertilizer, share the work (they’ll tend it when we’re at the lake), and then split the produce. Should be fun!

  3. FJ says:

    Well I speak here of the Moms that watch too much TV and buy $900 strollers for their babies, go to TheNest.com and complain their 2,000 square foot house is too small, etc. instead of exploring the baby’s mind by trying to make the baby use its imagination. They’d rather look to Baby Einstein to bring up their baby, and sit them in front of Sesame Street.

    I’m at the age where friends & cousins are having kids – this is a real problem. My wife & I agree that we can’t raise our children the way we see most people raising them now. Never mind the fact that her mother runs a day care and sees these women craving a certain lifestyle so they drop their kids off for strangers to raise them about 3 months after having a baby, even though they could get by, by not consuming as much for themselves after having children, on one income.

    I love the garden idea – that’s excellent, good for you & your neighbor. Maybe a small community of your other neighbors will join in and help create a healthy little mini-culture where you live!

  4. You have hit upon a real conundrum, the fact that we need to keep the economic growth associated with natural population growth without blowing the environment, and it requires the kind of fine tuning that’s pretty hard on the sexual urge in general. Come visit my blog, read “Please Send Catholics to Outer Space,” and join me in my call for an obvious solution.

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