2017 Had the Fewest Births in 30 Years ? What Does that Say About the Economy?

The US experienced plunging birth rates during the economically troubled decades of the 1930s and 1970s. That’s not an unlikely scenario. Historically, birth rates tend to rise during good economic times, and decline in weaker ones. In recent years, birth rates have been on the decline. 2017 had the fewest births in 30 years, yet according to all official statistics the economy is booming.

Many, including me, have long maintained that the official statistics are painting a more optimistic picture of the economy than what’s really happening. The recent decline in births and birth rates adds a big hunk of credibility to that claim. If the economy is so good, why aren’t more people having babies?

2017 Had the Fewest Births in 30 Years ? What Does that Say About the Economy?
2017 Had the Fewest Births in 30 Years ? What Does that Say About the Economy?

The 2017 Birth Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), total births in the US fell to 3,855,500 in 2017, compared to nearly 4 million in 2010.

To put that in perspective, during the post-World War II baby boom of the 1950s in the early 1960s, the number of births in the country exceeded 4 million consistently. The peak was reached in 1957 at 4.3 million-plus.

As recently as 1970, there were 3,731,386 births. But the population of the country that year was just over 203 million. The 3,855,500 births in 2017 were in a population of 325 million. Put another way, 2017 saw only slightly more births than 1970, despite a 60% increase in the total population of the country.

This points to another dilemma. Again, according to the CDC, the birth rate fell to 1,765.5 births per 1,000 women in 2017. To put that in perspective, that number needs to be 2,100 per 1,000 women, just to maintain the current population. Based on the current birth rate, the domestic population isn’t even replacing itself. If it weren’t for immigration, the US population would be in decline.

According to the CDC the number of births in 2017 was the lowest in 30 years, going all the way back to 1987 when 3,829,000 babies were born. The number rose in 1988, and held steady at near or just above the 4 million mark through 2009, when it began a steady decline through 2017.

The 2017 Economic Statistics

According to the official statisticians, 2017 was a strong year in the economy. The “evidence” is clear from the following statistics:

In fact, statistically speaking, 2017 was the eighth straight year of steady economic growth, following the bottom of the Great Recession in 2009. The growth statistics in each year are roughly consistent with 2017.

Yet the birth rates tell a story of slight but steady decline. The CDC report also disclosed the following:

Births in…

  • 2010, 3,999,386
  • 2011, 3,953,590
  • 2012, 3,952,841
  • 2013, 3,932,181
  • 2014, 3,988,076
  • 2015, 3,978,497
  • 2016, 3,945,785
  • 2017, 3,855,500

Now these numbers don’t represent a collapse in the birth rate, but rather a slow, steady decline. But according to the economic numbers that have been flowing out of official sources, we’re in something of a prolonged economic boom. Economic booms are typically accompanied by a rise in births, not stagnation or decline.

The statistics on housing sales are much more consistent with the decline in birth rates than with the official narrative of steady economic growth. Consider the following:

It’s worth noting that both statistics come on the heels of an eight-year economic expansion. Yet in that time, housing sales haven’t come close to their pre-recession peak levels.

In combination, the decline in both births and housing sales since before the recession are painting a very different picture of what’s going on in the economy. We’ve long since accepted the reality that the stock market has detached itself from the real economy. But is it also possible the official statistics have as well?

The Alternative Explanations to the Falling Birth Rates

From what I’ve read and heard, the hollowed-out economy is the most common reason cited for the decline in birth rates. It’s also being used to explain the increase in the number of Millennial’s living with their parents, not buying houses, not advancing in their careers, and not marrying.

Alternate explanations include addiction to the social media, student loan debt, fear of accusations of “inappropriate behavior” against males, and various iterations of the extended adolescence argument.

I think there’s some merit in all those explanations. But as a sociology professor I had in college once declared “economics is the dominant societal norm in our culture, the one that has the most pervasive effect on everything”.

The combination of weak employment prospects and large student loan debts is crippling a large swath of an entire generation. And if people in their 20s and 30s are unable to move forward in life, our entire culture suffers.

One of the big problems we have in the bigger picture is the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. If you’re well-established in your life, you might look at younger adults and dismiss them with the “they just need to grow up” narrative.

I don’t think it’s that simple. When I was in my 20s and 30s, my own generation was experiencing the problems of becoming an adult in a society that favored the youth culture. That is, immaturity over responsibility. But the economy was stronger then, jobs were more plentiful ? as were promotions, and housing and everything else was less expensive. And though healthcare was already becoming a problem, it hadn’t yet reached the magnitude we see today.

I think it really is worse for today’s young people. And it isn?t just young people who are affected.

If it Feels as if the Recession Never Ended in Your World it?s Not Your Imagination

Despite the official happy statistics, millions of Americans are at least vaguely aware that something is fundamentally wrong with the economy. Sure, the unemployment rate may be hovering around an enviable 4%, but it seems to be masking deeper issues.

For example, how many of the 96% who are employed are working part-time, contract, or in the gig economy? In each situation, income is uncertain, and benefits are missing. Then there’s the question of the millions of people who simply stopped looking for work. We can probably presume many of them are working in some area of the underground economy.

Unfortunately, all these people ? who number in the tens of millions ? seem to be invisible in official economic statistics. Yet they’re having a very real effect on the actual state of the economy. For example, because tens of millions of people are teetering on the economic edge, fewer babies are being born, fewer houses are being sold, and fewer cars are being purchased.

All that impairs the general economy, statistics be damned. It at least partially explains why the economy no longer seems to be big enough to accommodate both brick-and-mortar retail and online sales. Why 78% of American households live paycheck-to-paycheck. And as businesses function on life support, they’re more likely to avoid promoting prime age workers, or to prematurely lay off workers over 50, imperiling their retirements.

Final Thoughts

Maybe younger people do need to step up. But we have to seriously consider what options are available to step up into. Especially when they may be saddled with large student loan debts and/or unable to afford health insurance. And let’s not forget the relentless price spiral that the officialdom similarly refuse to acknowledge to exist.

In one way or another, we were all at least a little messed up when we were in our 20s and 30s. It’s called immaturity. But many of us were born into more forgiving times, when you could screw up for a while, but eventually find your place in life.

As the economy continues to hollow out, that outcome is becoming increasingly unlikely. And in one way or another, we?re all paying a price for that.

( Photo by Sellers Patton )

38 Responses to 2017 Had the Fewest Births in 30 Years ? What Does that Say About the Economy?

  1. It also might be that both people have to work now. Once you add up the cost of daycare having a baby just does not make a whole lot of sense.

    Most young people who are trying to start out after college have student loan debt. They need a good working car and a place to live in. Usually, it seems nowadays, both people have student loan debt, they both need cars.
    After paying for all that it seems having a baby just doesn’t seem possible. If you do, it will cost you a lot of money per month just to have somebody watch the baby while you’re at work. That usually comes with a nice big price tag that is hard to throw on top of all those other expenses.

    I think we all know at this point that the government numbers are way off.
    I think as time goes on we will see more and more of the effects of a generation of people who have been sold a gigantic bill of goods when it comes to college and the costs.
    I do think as you put it in some previous posts, student loan debt is going to have to be forgiven. It’s is a huge epidemic that has blown into one of the biggest bubbles that there is.
    As much as I don’t like it. There doesn’t seem to much of a choice anymore. Otherwise, the symptoms are going to become too overwhelming to ignore anymore.
    The baby thing could be a symptom of this.

  2. I think you’re right about all of it Tim. It’s interesting, my wife and I were discussing this very topic last night, about how with the cost of housing, cars, health insurance, student loan debt and daycare, kids just don’t seem to fit into the equation anymore. We both agreed that if we were just starting out, we probably wouldn’t have kids.

    The daycare situation is a problem all by itself. Since as you say, both spouses need to work, daycare becomes a necessity unless you have family or close friends who can help. But you’re probably going to have to pay something for that help as well. When you crunch the numbers, it looks like only people making around $150,000 a year can make it work. And not many couples under 35 are.

    My guess is that in the coming years we’re going to see some fundamental shifts in the spending choices people make. It’ll affect housing, cars, education, and healthcare most particularly. I see the deck being completely rearranged in all four of those categories, into more workable and affordable alternatives.

    What’s going to need to change though is the mindset of people. It’ll never come from the top down, because there’s too much money in inflated prices. But I’ve written about some of these alternatives in the past, like shared housing, greater self-employment, rationed healthcare, and a steadily decreasing reliance on the system.

    For example, when my kids were young I purposely moved into a work-from-home situation so we could get them out of daycare, which was becoming steadily more expensive. There were sacrifices of course, but no progress ever comes without it. I think that’s what’s going to have to happen, but on a local and individual level. If we’re going to sit around and wait for the nameless, faceless “they” to make it happen, it won’t.

  3. The second part is this.
    To be brutally honest, I never had my first kid until I was 36. Now that we are entering the college years I see how tough it is to get through to kids. Although he has lived in my house for 17 years and seen how it is and how things work he listens to what society says more than me.
    I never went to college and retired from one successful career and am working on my second one, all without college.
    It is so difficult to sit by and watch him get shoved into the cattle pen like everybody else.
    If I would have known what little influence I would have as a parent, I might have thought a whole lot different about having any kids in the first place.
    Social media and the influence of stupid people rule the day. He looks up to athletes and entertainers who do not live in the real world. He follows them on social media and sees the unrealistic lives they live and that what he wants. He says all I know is I need to make a lot of money. Of course, he has no idea how or what he wants.
    These are the people he listens to. Someone he has never met.

    Maybe younger people already know this. What I am learning right now and opt out of that scene.

    Who knows. I suspect it is more of the above post but ………

  4. What you’re describing is the herd mentality. As baby boomers, we were raised with it to, but we still had the strong influence of the previous generations who weren’t. Back then, there was a lot of talk about the generation gap. But the truth is the generations of our parents and grandparents had a more positive impact on our lives than we ever realized at the time. Plus, while we had TV and movies and radio, we didn’t have smart phones and the social media. And for much of our lives, the entertainment stopped sometime around midnight. Today it’s around-the-clock subtle indoctrination.

    It’s worse for the kids today. I realized when my kids were young that my wife and I were merely the custodians of our children. They were increasingly the property of the state. That is, we increasingly lived in a world of must-do’s and can’t-do’s, as dictated from the top. There was a lot less going with your gut instinct, the way our parents and grandparents could do. For example, when I was growing up, college was a desirable option, but it wasn’t a requirement. By the time my kids were in school, it was being sold as a requirement. If you can get them to think of it that way, it’s a short walk to crushing student loan debt.

    That’s just one example. As we’ve discussed on this site in the past, group think has replaced critical, individually driven thought. That’s a dangerous place to be, because it makes you a prisoner of the herd. Unfortunately, a lot of young people today simply aren’t taught to think outside the group. That’s part of why parents have so little influence, we’re simply not in the little (and not so little) peer groups that our kids are.

  5. So here is another one.
    Women have been completely scammed into thinking that somehow being a stay at home mother is a waste of time. That is looked down on as some kind of curse.
    So women have bought into this mentality that they can have it all. Be a high powered corp executive and raise a family. It is a complete lie. For a proper family to be raised correctly one person has to be there, all the time. Women are natural child raisers. They are good at it. If it wasn’t for my wife staying home my kids would be a disaster. Who do they listen too? Some high profile actress who makes 75 million a year but says, you can do both. Wrong!!! She can pay to have someone raise her kids while she is out flying around the world. Or pay for private tutoring and nannies so the kids can be with her.
    My kids lived in a three-unit house growing up, why? So my wife could stay at home. She quit her career to do it. She worked harder than any women I know who had a job. My point is that people are not willing to do what it takes. They have been brainwashed into thinking they can do both.
    I think once the reality sets in that you really can’t do both they opt out of having kids.

    The second one is that people do not go into marriage with the for life mentality. Women now are taught, you can’t rely on a man. You have to have your own career and power. This is to the detriment of the family.
    Men are just as stupid. They are in it until somebody better comes along. It’s such an unstable environment to have kids now that who wants to?
    95 percent of the people I know are on their second or third marriage. With kids scattered all over the place.
    Maybe women now, younger ones 25 to 30 have seen the last generation do that and say, forget it. Who needs that.

    I don’t know but I think it has a lot to do with the economy but it also has a lot to do with a lot of these other influences and factors.

    Women and men have been herded into this ridiculous way of thinking and living that it is no wonder they don’t know what they are supposed to do anymore.

  6. I think men have fallen into the same pattern, of thinking you can have it all. Logic should tell us otherwise. You can’t have a high-powered career, that has you working 60 or 70 hours a week, and still have time to be an amateur athlete, watch sports seven days a week, go drinking with the guys, and still have time for your wife and kids.

    The more fundamental problem is that we’ve all been trained to be consumers (that herd thing again, ie, if you don’t go to college you can’t keep up). But to consume, you have to have money. That means you either marry your career, or learn to live in peace with a high level of debt. Both can destroy marriages and families, or render them unimportant.

    I think that’s where were at. If something has to give, it’s marriage and children. But the money and the stuff has to stay, because in the culture we’ve created those are the things that truly matter.

    It isn’t just and families either. The entire mentality today is that money, systems, and stuff are necessities that need to be protected, while people are expendable. This helps to explain why so many employers have so little difficulty laying people off, why the prisons are full, and why so many people are in therapy.

  7. This makes me sad.

    I have 2 kids well into their 30’s and no grandchildren. I’m starting to give up hope, maybe our family ends here. They don’t realize how important it is to keep a fmily line going; I don’t know how they’ll get by when they get old and there is no more family left. They don’t get it.

    There is never a right time to have kids, there is never enough money for it to be the right time to have kids, there is never the perfect job or the perfect house to that makes it the right time to have kids. Waiting for those perfect circumstances to come together will never happen.

    I do believe some of the ‘family planning’ advice that has been proseltyzed over the last decades is deeply flawed. You just have kids and then make it work. It’s a learn as you go thing, not a series of proscribed steps to success.

  8. Hi Marissa – My wife and I realize we may never have grandchildren and we’re OK with that. But like you, we do worry what will become of our kids with no kids of their own. I take delight in my kids, even now that they’re in their 20s, but feel bad that mine might not ever know that feeling. But on the other hand what they don’t know they probably won’t miss.

    I agree on the timing factor, there is no perfect time. When my kids were born I certainly felt we weren’t ready, but you’re right, you figure it out and work it out. Not sure that’ll be so easy for the current crop of people in their 20s and 30s and younger. The cost of living and the constrained income opportunities are creating a serious squeeze. I’m of the opinion that nothing short of an economic reset is going to change that. I think it’s coming, but it’ll be messy when it comes. In the meantime, we can’t continue on the current path. A society that has few kids eventually disappears. We’re a long way from that right now, but it will become more apparent in the decades ahead.

    You’ve touched on something else that I think is significant, and that’s people pursuing perfection. That’s a vain hope, but it’s been drummed into young people that “they must get it right or else”. They’ve been taught, often subtly that life is all about avoiding mistakes. But what’s lost is that somewhere in the middle of all those mistakes is real life. But that seems to be a casualty as well. There’s little thought to just heading over the next hill, trying things, and just living. No, you have to go to school, get your career on tract asap, and start saving for retirement when you’re 22, otherwise you risk committing the unpardonable sin of not being ready to retire, or early retire.

    I doctor friend told me something about a medical situation a few years back, he said “leave room for God (in the cure)”. I think our culture has lost that concept in favor of the philosophy that we must be in control of everything. That’s a high pressure way to live, and completely unnecessary – no to mention completely impossible to achieve.

  9. That is describing me, Kevin. spending 25 years in law enforcement, that is all you do is worry about the downside. You are taught to avoid mistakes. Mistakes get people hurt or worse.
    These become after effects that become part of who you are in your everyday life. I spend most of my time when talking to my son about the downside risk to everything he does. Your right, it is a lot of pressure. I run my business the same way and generally my life.

    Your right also. Life happens in mistakes. Learning happens the same way. It is never a perfect time to do anything. I think it is ok to speak of the realities of things but then you have to step back and let it take its course.
    Being a type A, it is very difficult to have kids. There are so many things you don’t have control over. My comments above, knowing myself much better now I might have rethought having them. Not because I don’t love them but what it did to me. I dislike the pressure and the worrying about there well being. I know that suddenly my life changed and I became a guy who became a worrier.
    I have seen the very downside of life. Drug addiction, absentee parents, rape of children. Kids just disappearing. You get the idea. So after I had my own it just got worse.
    These are aftereffects that never go away. So when people complain about my retirement or pension. Which isn’t huge. They have zero clue mentally the price that’s paid.
    I’m just discovering some of this myself, six years removed.
    I’m getting way off topic here, again. LOL

  10. Actually you’re on topic Tim. Everything you’re describing feeds into the low birthrate. But in your case it’s understandable you see the dark side of things. You spent 25 years immersed in it. It’s probably a low grade form of PTSD. You’ve seen how ugly life can be, so you worry about it more. After all, it was real in your life. It might not have been you personally, but it was everyone around you that you were forced to deal with. Think about it, in a real way, a cop’s job is to clean up the crap in life. The average person doesn’t know how common that is. You saw it first hand. It changes you – you can’t un-see the things you saw.

    But I love Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s like telling us to relax and not to fret, God’s in control, and nothing is happening that He isn’t aware of. I rest in that, more so as I realize how dysfunctional the world really is. But at the same time, I feel the need to move forward against the dysfunction. To paraphrase Michelle Obama, when the world goes low, we go high (the Democrats don’t actually follow that advice, but we should since it’s solid advice at the root).

    I also love the saying by the Christophers, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. I think that’s the calling for us all, even given that we’re all messed up in our own ways.

  11. Hi Keven. Perhaps a lower birth rate is a good thing for all the reasons you mentioned, student debt, taking longer to grow up, social influence, product of divorced parents, women wanting their own careers, etc. There are downsides of low birth rates as well, but so long as these decisions (staying childless) is a well-thought-out choice, I don’t see it as a bad thing. As Tim was saying, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to maintain any control or influence over their children. It used to be a parent had this influence/control until the child was 18 or so years of age. Now, they seem lost at Age 10, mostly caused by social media and the ability of the child to see and say “gee, what are they wearing in Europe these days!” And I agree that women are lead to believe that being a stay-at-home mom is a bad thing. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it does give women a disadvantage later in life. It’s a choice, and, as a woman with a daughter and granddaughter, I’m happy to say that this can now be a choice for us, when in years past it wasn’t. I’m all for moms (or dads) staying home with the kids…kids need it…but parents can’t have it all and sacrifices need to be made.

    From an economic standpoint, it’s incredibly expensive to raise children these days, as all of us on this blog know and understand. It’s a huge responsibility, and maybe the younger generation is making different decisions. I guess I don’t see it as a problem.

  12. Hi Bev – I’m all for people making choices about having children or not. You don’t know how big a responsibility it is until you have one though. But what I’m struggling with is that the choice may no longer be there for a lot of people, due to economic reasons or new social norms. I agree, women should have a choice to earn a living, have children or do both. For for an increasing number of women – and men – the choice isn’t there anymore. For millions it’s now a choice between having children and committing financial suicide. Sure, you can work around the financial side, but for many that leads to a life of deprivation more than compromise. And that’s really the point, the choice really isn’t there any more due to deteriorating economic conditions.

    It’s never been easy to have and raise a family, but it was an easier decision in the past. Today you might be choosing between having a child and having health insurance, or needing to move to a trailer home 30 miles out because you can’t afford housing in most communities on just one income. Too many ordinary things have become too expensive, and I think it’s showing up in declining births. That’s tragic.

    And this is a bit off topic, but I wonder how many Americans have thought about the absurdity of opposing immigration at a time of declining births? Maybe we will be better off in the long run with fewer people, but the history books tell a very different story.

  13. Your right Bev. It is a choice. I have no problem with women being anything. Men either for a matter of fact.
    There are sacrifices, huge ones.
    Not everybody is suited to be parents.

    I wish I would have known earlier on the responsibility and what it would do to me. I might have made different choices. Again, I fell into the same trap that is taught. Oh, I’m getting old, I better start a family. Even though I knew I would struggle with it.

    I talk openly with my sons about this stuff. They know I love them. They understand the struggle I have had. I have never taken it out on them or made them feel like they don’t belong. My hope is when the time comes for them to make these choices they understand what is involved and they take it seriously.

    Maybe a lower birthrate might be a good sign. Younger women are making different choices now. There are certainly many more options open to them now and that is a good thing. I do think the economy plays a role but I think they’re many other factors involved also.
    I just don’t like the fact that women are looked down upon if they decide to stay at home and just be a mother. It is one of the most self-sacrificing acts that can be made and should be applauded.

  14. Tim, I think some of your struggle with parenting is more normal than you think. I’ve second guessed my parenting from the very beginning. Did I handle that situation right? Was I too hard here? Was I too soft there? Junior is weak in area X, what did I do to make that happen? We’re facing Crisis Y – what do I do now? There have been many times when I thought I was the worst parent on the planet, and even now I look back and wonder if what I did was right. Also, I think it’s natural to worry for your kids, even if they don’t worry for themselves. It’s part of being a parent.

    There was a country radio DJ in Atlanta years ago (“Moby” I believe) who said, speaking of his young son, “Having a child means carrying your heart outside your body for the rest of your life.” When I heard him say that my reaction was He nailed it!.

    I’ve seen parents who don’t worry about any of this, but they’re almost always the ones who really don’t care. They can’t wait for their kids to grow up and move on (out of their lives). If you’re worried about this and that, it’s just an indication you’re one of the parents who cares. That’s a virtue, not a weakness. You might be a bit easier on yourself.

  15. I’ll admit that from my kids early age I have raised them to leave. I want them to stand on there own. I don’t want them here past a certain age. Not because I don’t get along with them but the reality is they are going to spend 3/4 of there lives on there own.
    I have always been hard on myself about everything so, yes you have a good point.
    My father was very demanding. He hated stupidity and excuses. I have tried to be a little more lenient than he was.

    I have said this out loud a few times to people over the years. About how nerve-wracking I find parenting is and people don’t seem to relate. So I just figure I’m the one who is off base here.

  16. I don’t think you’re off base at all. If you think about it, in the broadest sense, the most important role of parents is teaching a child to live without them. That runs counter to modern helicopter parenting, but it is the ultimate purpose of parenting. Get that wrong, and we’ve truly failed as parents. Unfortunately, most parents today believe that role is filled by providing a college education, which is a very narrow strategy. A kid can grow up to be a very educated but highly dependent adult. If so, the education may have succeeded, but the parenting still failed.

  17. You’re also right about the choice becoming really not much choice anymore.
    You are giving up something. Used to be a little easier. You didn’t or have to face the choices in such a way as literally resigning yourself to no health care or some other dramatic choice.

  18. Again, its a matter of the world and US returning to the “normal” of pre industry. My hometown is called the “magic city” because of the phenominal growth after during and after the second world war. I had 5 siblings and that was normal all over. No family had less than 4 kids. Yet my dad worked a regular job with not much OT, and was able to support us all pretty comforatably. Try that today! Just as wolves and rabbits, families get larger and smaller in relation to the times. The last 200 years were the abnormal times. We may see larger families again if we return to a more agrarian time. The farmers will need help to run things!

  19. Either way Ric, that explanation – completely valid that it is – confirms we’re in leaner times, when supporting any family at all, let alone a large one, is increasingly impractical.

  20. I don’t see it ever going back to that time. Too much has changed. You speak of farmers, there are not enough left. They can’t compete anymore with corporate farming.
    Steel will never return. Yes, it is still used but the time that it boomed in the U.S. was a time when most big cities of today were being built. It will never come back like that.
    Most of the industry that worked at the beginning of the 1900s does not work anymore.
    Technology is the new industry now. I good friend of mine, heads up the data center expansion at Google. It’s amazing how much expansion and money they are spending on a yearly basis.
    They probably have built 75 data centers in the last five years around the world. They just committed 20 billion more for U.S. expansion. There are huge underground fiber networks that have been built under the oceans, connecting the remotest parts of the world.

    So that era is over. Having kids is going to become a status symbol of the wealthy. Maybe not today or in my lifetime but I believe it will happen. They will be the only ones who can afford them.

  21. That would be a great article. Talk about how much change has happened since WW2 or even into more closer times since the 70’s and 80’s. How have you adjusted? Have you? or do you resist it?

    Families have changed, basically everything has. I have really tried to abandon my way of thinking. It doesn’t work anymore. Some things will always work, like staying out of debt. Overall though the way I was brought up does not work in this time frame.

    Even the way I run my business. Nobody talks about print advertising anymore. It’s all digital. Facebook and social media now rule the day. My online presence matters way more now. I hate it. I despise facebook but I have had to except the reality that this is what works now.
    Same with the birthrate. The reality is kids are becoming something that has become more and more of a financial decision than anything.

    I could go on and on. I agree that it is sad but it is sad to a generation that grew up different. I don’t think it will have the impact on the younger generation that it would have as a 60 or 70 year old person who grew up with a different mindset.

  22. I don’t understand why this is a bad thing. Why would having a huge population be a good thing in lean times? Another big thing to consider is all the “boomers” passing away in the next 10 to 20 years. Should mean lots of job openings but the elder care and medical fields are gonna take a hit. Things change. Adapt or suffer.

  23. I don’t think Kevin was pointing out if it is bad or not. I think he was trying to point out in spite of the official numbers being told to us. Low unemployment, booming stock market and economy.
    Is the birthrate showing something totally opposite than what we are being told.

    I can agree that it is. Then again, all I have to do is look around at the depression in this city and I don’t see anything that remotely jive with the government numbers.

    Of course we get off on our tangents ( me especially )but I think that was the jist of the article.

  24. Tim and Ric – I actually agree with you both. Tim, you’re completely right that the 20th century economic model is in decline, never to return. But I agree with Ric about adapt or suffer. The major problem is the population isn’t adapting. People are still thinking “job” and sending their kids to college to get jobs in a world where jobs are very specifically being targeted for elimination. They’re also continuing to take on debt as a) a way to compensate for lower income, and b) under the assumption of a positive outcome. But the basic utility of technology, particularly the kind we’re seeing now, is specifically the elimination of jobs. This isn’t the kind of technology that expanded jobs during the Industrial Revolution. No, it’s designed to do the opposite, since payrolls are the largest expense for most businesses today.

    We seem to be in between economic models, and until we construct a new one that’s workable, the future isn’t looking good. Yes, life is better than ever for the top 10% (or maybe it’s only the top 5%), but the bottom 90% are in a slow, steady squeeze. And that’s where we circle back to the declining birth rate. Like most problems in the world, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and might distract us from the real issues.

    But Ric I do disagree with you that a declining population could be a good thing. History isn’t on the side of that argument. The Roman Empire experienced a massive population decline leading up to its collapse, and the black plague made circumstances in the middle ages much worse. And throughout history cities and civilizations have simply disappeared with no evidence of natural disaster or foreign invasion. A declining population isn’t consistent with a thriving culture, but a dying one. Maybe we’re moving into a new paradigm, but I wouln’t bet real money on that assumption. If it does end well, I’ll be happily wrong. But from where we sit right now, there isn’t much evidence of “this time it’s different”.

    Here’s another issue with the low birth rate…it’s only happening in the rich countries, the US, Japan and Europe. Meanwhile the population in the poor countries is exploding. It doesn’t take too much imagination to draw a connection to the middle ages with that trajectory. I wish I could be optimistic on this, but there’s no model for it that I’m aware of.

  25. It’s interesting because I read that when Trump was spewing out his speel on bringing back manufacturing.
    The article said that only about a quarter of those jobs would return even if manufacturing was going full scale like 50 years ago due to technology replacing people.
    Yet, here are all these idiots screaming wildly believing this.

    My question is besides having your own business where are people going to work? If more and more people get replaced by machines.
    Thats part of why I think this UBI keeps getting talked about.

    Even McDonalds is experimenting with automatic ordering machines with a skeleton crew working.

  26. Yeah, even if manufacturing comes back it’ll do it with far fewer jobs (people to fix the machines). I think self-employment is the answer. We go back to what existed and sustained humanity for thousands of years, small shops, farms, skilled craftsman, etc. Not the world we’re living in now, but it’s the norm over the longer term. The robots will build the stuff, and we’ll sell it, service it and fix it. That’s the part that hasn’t happened yet.

  27. For some of that to happen don’t you think a lot of these big dept stores will need to close
    For example, We have a Home Depot here in the city, it has literally put every small hardware store owner out of business.
    All these massive chains have put the smaller business owner out of business. You have whole towns who allowed these dept stores to build in or near enough to the town that has sucked main street USA right out of business.
    It’s the same with printing on paper. You have all these stores like UPS, Kinkos, FedEx all who offer copy and print services. I knew local guys who had to close their printshops because they can’t compete with the low prices.
    You can buy 1000 business cards for 10.00 online. Who needs the local guys anymore.
    There would have to be a massive shift in the mindset of the people and in the country that would want to go back.
    I don’t see it happening unless there is some kind of huge meltdown and a long rebuilding process.

  28. You’re last sentence explains what I believe is coming. But we’re already seeing signs with the retail meltdown. We read a lot about Sears but dozens of other chains are also in deep poop. Charlotte Russe just announced closing 20% of their stores after filing for bankruptcy protection. Eventually, I think this spreads to the more successful big chains as well, and maybe even to Amazon. Think about it, it has to cost a fortune to do all this door-to-door delivery to millions of homes and establishments. So maybe eventually the deliver to locally owned dealers (shops/warehouses) where people pick up. It becomes a niche for some small businesses.

    That’s just an idea. One thing I do know is that big changes have often happened suddenly, with little advance warning. All these companies that seem invincible may be gone or severely shrunk in the coming years due to forces we can’t imagine. One I can is a full fledged credit meltdown. All the big boxes are built on credit, both to expand and to sell their goods. Should that be severely restricted, the much lower sales volume won’t support mega chains any more. Small will be back in favor. And I also think the widespread access to the internet will eventually prove to be a panacea for a lot more small businesses than it is now. Right now I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg on that. Think about the ability of a small fry to open a shop and get product directly from a manufacturer in Asia or Latin America. Once people begin to grasp that, it could unleash a tidal wave of change. But it may take some sort of crisis to be the catalyst.

  29. The ability of society to change and think outside the box to adapt is the big issue. Everyone is just trying to keep the lifestyle they have known all their lives.
    Instead of trying to get the kids out on their own, keep them home as long as possible to help with the household and bills. Plus they have time to build a nest egg of their own if people will jist start saving again. This will also decease demand for housing which should lower prices eventually.
    Elected officials cant make changes to make things better because they would have to admit that the economy is not in the great shape they have been proclaiming. Zoning and work laws will need major changes to accomodate the new reality.
    This is why I try to live on the edges of socierty. I live with many other people to share expenses, workload and skills. I dont drive. Before I make a purchase I think about it for at least a few days. Many times the urge to buy goes away. I talk to my neghbors and make sure they know the skills I can offer to help them out and save money. Im trying to adapt every day.

  30. You’re ahead of the game Ric, soon enough we’ll all be doing something similar, but by necessity rather than choice. The problem is people continue to pretend it’s still the 1990s, or that we’re about to turn the corner back into that decade. Hence, the houses, the cars the debts and the pursuit of similar jobs. That’s what has to change, but it probably will come only through crisis.

  31. Thats why blogs and posts such as yours are so important. Once people can see the issues we face they can make choices to weather the changes. Plus you have more choices when things are not in a crisis mode. If you have already “downsized”, you’re not competing as much when things do go wrong. Less competition may mean less of a crisis. The hard part is changing people’s ingrained perception of our social and economic world in time.

  32. It’s very much a “voice in the woods” task. You and I and others on this blog can shout it from the rooftops and put it all over the social media, but people won’t get it if they don’t want to. I completely agree that advance preparation is absolutely necessary. Right now we have room to maneuver. But when the problems become so obvious even the officialdom and the media won’t be able to hide it, it’ll already be too late. And of course, change in actions and lifestyle must be proceeded by a change in thinking. That’s not easy with everything looking so good. Now the stock market looks like it’s about to hit a new high, so people like us look like buffoons.

  33. +1 to this post, Kevin.

    “But when the problems become so obvious even the officialdom and the media won?t be able to hide it, it?ll already be too late.”

  34. I think parenthood is less common because it has been made so hard! No trusting one’s instincts or common sense.

    One doesn’t look at whether the child acts hungry. One measures the amount of formula, recording it in an app, and setting up a pattern of food by numbers instead of food by instinct.
    A child today who sees a camera pointed his/her way immediately poses or lines up– no such thing as a candid shot, and every moment is recorded and is only real in the electronic photo, not the mind-memory. No baby is “real” until ultrasound images have been taken and distributed, even if it is not a completely harmless or necessary procedure. A “gender reveal” party will establish the child on the right path to be not a happy and healthy person, but a happy and healthy boy or princess.
    Parents schedule delivery dates for their baby, with the doctor’s supervision, rather than waiting for the woman’s body and the baby to decide when birth will happen.
    Babies can’t have crib blankets until the date they are officially “blanketed”, (maybe 12 months?), because they will suffocate themselves.
    Strangers are dangerous; children cannot be left alone because they will be kidnapped, though the actual numbers of stranger kidnappings are very tiny. I deleted my comments about fire-retardant sleepwear and coats in car seats as this is getting long. Empirical evidence is lacking, and the implication is what could happen, does happen, often.
    Please note that I think the death or serious or even minor injury of any child, especially one’s own, is tragic, and I worked to safeguard my child.
    Yet with the desire to control, protect, measure, structure, and predict everything, to thus work to create a perfect child– no wonder potential parents are afraid to have one child, let alone many. Combine this with the economics you write of, comments about “being brave to have a child in today’s uncertain world”, over-the-top examples of expensively raised celebrity children, absurd marketing lists of must-have items and must-do experiences, and jokes about exhausted and broke parents. Child development is an academic discipline, a fact that proves it is difficult for even a reasonable lay person to do right. Thus parenting becomes a low-priority option.

  35. Hi Louise – It’s certainly not our parent’s parenting, that’s for sure. My own personal opinion is that many people today are rebelling against their own childhoods and demanding parenting laws. Discretion is removed from the parents. The kids are no longer the parent’s, but the property of the state, with parents as caretakers, subject to revocation if they don’t raise them in the politically correct way.

    Meanwhile, the kids are raised in a bubble and thus completely unprepared for the real world. Then we wonder why they don’t want to grow up. Who would want to after being so protected? I’ve mused many times that the Brady Bunch destroyed parenting in this country, because it came to be seen as enlightened parenting. And not just that show either. Full House might have been even worse – no mother and a spineless father and his two kooky roommates raising three little girls (like that wouldn’t be a recipe for disaster!).

    If it was so enlightened, why are so many young people struggling with adulthood? I’ve heard employers complain of young people even bringing their mothers on job interviews. Then you look at the opiod crisis, and the virtually ignored alcohol addiction problem, for more evidence things are spinning out of control. But no one dares challenge the PC parenting rules, lest they be accused of supporting child abuse. How sick is that?

    I don’t blame anyone who chooses not to have kids today.

  36. Men have been attacked in this country for the past thirty years. Every show that features a family now, the men are being portrayed as idiots.
    Either as spineless worms or just plain dumb.

    This has clearly been an agenda for a long time. Young men today really haven’t a clue anymore what they are or what they are suppose to be or how to act. They are told they can pick their own sex for that matter. They have been attacked on every side to where they are very confused as to what or how they fit.

    I knew the day my son came home from school in 6th grade and told me he could have me arrested if I touched him it was over. I didn’t teach him that. He corrected me two months back because I used the word spaz. He said, what if you were talking to someone with epilepsy.

    It has just gotten so out of hand that really, I hide from society in general. I cannot stand the people in this country now. Most of them just act like outright idiots.
    If I could go back 25 years with what I know now as far as raising kids I would have chosen a different path.

    It has been such a battle just to raise them semi normal with all the outside lunacy.

  37. You’re going to get me on my soapbox Tim. It’s clear men and manhood are being marginalized. Boys grow up not knowing how a man should act. I see men with their children and it’s like they’re afraid of them. And you’re right about TV. Men are bubble heads, and women have all the brains. Or the fathers are easily outsmarted by the kids. Testosterone has been deemed a prohibited substance, even though it’s natural to men.

    Years ago in my kids elementary school they had essays of I believe 3rd or 4th graders posted on the bulletin board in the hallway. I perused one of them, where the kid was saying that he wasn’t worried if anything happened to his parents because he “knew nice people at DFACs (GA Div of Family and Children’s services – how’s that for an Orwellian title???) would come and take me to a safe place”. Where does the kids get that from at 8 or 9? 10-to-1 he heard that in school.

    When my son, about 11 at the time, threatened to call the state on us we sat him down and told him where they would take him and how he would live, then handed him the phone and told him to call them. He declined and never threatened us again. But this is what the kids are being taught at an early age and they’re using against their parents. It’s all a big picture conspiracy to weaken parenting and especially fathering.

    What really sucks is in cases where kids are really being abused the child protective services usually don’t know, or under-react. Then you get this ridiculous stuff that they go after like they’re on a mission to clean up the world, and drag a good, normal family through the mud. Like I said in a previous comment, kids now belong to the state, and parents are just the care takers subject to revocation.

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