It appears some Americans have dropped the ball, so to speak, in this pandemic. You know who you are. One might have expected that couples restricted to home and left without other entertainment options might have busied themselves by getting busy.
Instead, CBS reported today, it looks like we all did Netflix without the chill. And to no one’s surprise, this is part of a longer trend that started with Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb”:
Provisional birth rate data provided to CBS News by 27 state health departments shows a roughly 7.2% decline in births in December 2020, nine months after COVD-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. California, the most populous state, reported a 10.2% decline, falling to 32,910 births in December from 36,651 the year prior. In the same time frame, births declined by 30.4% in Hawaii.
While birth rates have been falling for nearly a decade, Phil Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, said December’s drop was the biggest he’s seen since the baby boom ended in 1964.
That is bad news in and of itself in the long term. It means that we can expect another population band with fewer members struggling to fund the social safety-net programs their predecessors will require as they age and pass away. It’s a recipe for long-term stagnation or worse, and our previous spending has already guaranteed that outcome. That’s what has Dr. Dolwell Myers worried, and rightly so.
Cohen says it also signals bad news in the short term, at least indirectly:
“The scale of this is really large,” Cohen said in a telephone interview with CBS News. “Regardless of whether you think it’s good or bad to have a lot of children, the fact that we’re suddenly having fewer means things are not going well for a lot of people.” …
“We don’t know if it’s the beginning of a bigger decline over the whole next year or if it’s just a shock from March,” Cohen said. “But I’m more inclined based on history to think that all of next year is going to be very much down for births.”
Be sure to stick around for a Guttmacher Institute spokesperson spin this as “a marker for women’s equality and freedom of choice,” but that’s switching the outcome with the condition. It’s also short-sighted, especially since women tend to outlive men and require those social safety-net programs for longer. If they don’t have children to pick up that slack and there aren’t enough workers to support their governmental benefits, women will pay a disproportionate price for this baby bust over the arc of their lives. “Choice” has the potential to become a bitter topic at that point.
Of course, there’s a solution to this problem, one easily accessible and (if memory serves) rather enjoyable at that. It’s amazing to see that procreation isn’t what it used to be. How much Netflix can you people watch, anyway?