Can U.S. birth rates recover?

Even so, the trend toward fewer births is likely to continue long-term, mirroring what’s been going on overseas for decades. “I would suspect that fertility rates over the long-term would start to resemble those of Europe,” says Mather.

Europe’s birth rates have been declining for decades, and especially so in the continent’s most economically stable country. Germany’s birth rate – 1.36 children per female – is the lowest in all of Europe and one of the lowest in the world. There were fewer German births in 2011 than at any other time recorded.

Even before the euro crisis, experts were sounding the alarm over Europe’s gloomy demographic future. How is the continent supposed to take care of an aging population when its birth rates are pointing toward a shrinking workforce in the decades to come?