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No reason to panic about a dip in the birth rate

I have no doubt that Jeff Jacoby’s concern about America is genuine (“Beware the baby bust generation,” Op-ed, Dec. 16). However, I think his panic is misplaced.

For one, the birth rate during the baby boom was the aberration. In the late 1970s, America’s total fertility rate was at its lowest, at 1.79 births per woman. It inched back up in the following three decades, and has only recently declined again, to about 1.9. Most likely, this is a function of the economy, and the rate will rise again.

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The average American woman wants two children — unchanged from the 1970s.

The Census Bureau projects that we’ll grow from 312 million now to 420.3 million by 2060.

Yes, our nation is aging, but we survived the Civil War. We survived world wars. We survived the Great Depression and 9/11. Surely our nation will long endure even though we baby boomers are getting AARP cards.

Meanwhile, 15 million American children live in poverty. Instead of shaming women into having more babies, why don’t we ensure that the kids we’ve got have health care and a great education? That would likely boost our gross domestic product more than would a sudden run on diapers.

John Seager


Population Connection


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