March 5, 2006

ATOMIZERS VS MOLECULARISTS (via Tom Morin):

Behind the Baby Bust (Richard Morin, March 13, 2005, Washington Post)

From Japan to Germany to the United States, puzzled demographers are asking the same question: Why are so few people having babies these days?

Three University of Minnesota researchers think they've found an unexpected answer. They blame the baby bust on the Social Security system, 401(k)s and similar government old-age pension and savings plans. Those programs, they claim, have reduced the need for forward-thinking couples to produce lots of kids who could take care of Mom and Dad in their old age.

Increases in retirement benefits are inevitably followed by a corresponding drop in the birth rate; the bigger the benefit system, the bigger the decline, according to economists Michele Boldrin, Mariacristina De Nardi and Larry E. Jones.

For more than seven decades, with the notable exception of the baby boom period after World War II, the total fertility rate has fallen dramatically and consistently in virtually every developed country in the world.

Today, the average woman in the world bears half as many children as did her counterpart in 1972, and no industrialized country still produces enough children to sustain its population over time, Phillip Longman noted last summer in an article for Foreign Affairs. In the United States, the total fertility rate has dropped from 3.2 children per woman in 1920 to 2.1 children today. In Europe, fertility declined from 2.8 children per woman to 1.5 between 1970 and 2000.

Boldrin noticed that the decline in fertility in developed countries paralleled the development of state-sponsored pension programs. Coincidence? Boldrin and her research team thought not.

Drawing from surveys and other data collected by previous researchers in the United States and Europe, including a massive cross-cultural study of 104 countries conducted in 1997, they were able to identify the factors that most directly influenced fertility rates. They also charted the growth of the old-age pension systems in each country to determine what impact, if any, they had on fertility. The development of government pension programs accounted for between half and two-thirds of the decline in fertility rates in the United States and developed countries over the last 70 years, they concluded in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Atomizing society into individuals dependent on the state, instead of each other, was, of course, the precise intent of the Left. To be truly successful though it requires concurrent secularization.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2006 9:09 AM
Comments

Is the phrase "decline in fertility" a deliberate obfuscation and if so, why? Decline in fertility means couples cannot conceive, a decline in birthrates may mean only an increase in birth control and abortions which do not affect fertility at all.

The concluding paragraphs are the most astonishing.

"But the long-term health of the U.S. Social Security system is looking increasingly shaky. Could this produce a baby boomlet?

Perhaps, their study suggests. In fact, it may already be happening. Births-per-female actually have bumped up slightly in recent years, they reported.

Coincidence? The Wiz thinks not."

The Wiz better think again. If there is a birth boomlet, it probably has more to do with the decline in "feminist," anti-family thinking and a return to so-called family values, among the younger generations.

It's too far-fetched to believe that couples in the U.S. are actually deciding to have more children because they fear the healthcare/social security system will let them down in their dotage and only someone so immersed in leftwing group think would make such a silly statement.

Posted by: erp at March 5, 2006 10:25 AM

Three University of Minnesota researchers think they've found an unexpected answer. They blame the baby bust on the Social Security system, 401(k)s and similar government old-age pension and savings plans. Those programs, they claim, have reduced the need for forward-thinking couples to produce lots of kids who could take care of Mom and Dad in their old age.

How on Earth can they call that an "unexpected" answer? Didn't anyone ever tell them "Have Children for Old Age"? Didn't 20th century economics teach us that incentives matter?

As answers go, I think that falls on the side of "bleeding obvious." It may be wrong, as "erp" suggests above. But you'd think it would be one of the very first things you'd come up with, especially after it dawned on social scientists that Welfare may have destroyed the urban Black family.

Posted by: Taeyoung at March 5, 2006 1:49 PM

Have they ever considered that: high social security -> high FICA -> less take home pay -> more 2 income earners -> less time for raising babies -> less babies? They start from the notion that enlightened Westerners are so un-enlightened that they want to have babies to take care of them in their old age. They would rather save for their old age themselves, which they cannot do because of high taxes. They are not going to burden their babies with taking care of them and other old folks. In Germany, they actually have a law mandating the square footage of living space for each person. There are no ways that a young couple who work in metropolitan areas can afford to have children. The West is killing itself with stupid laws.

Posted by: ic at March 5, 2006 1:51 PM
« FREE TO BE ME AND WE: | Main | APPLICATION DENIED (via Tom Morin): »