US Fertility Rate Hits A Record Low

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US Fertility Rate Hits A Record Low
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Widespread infertility is a phenomenon that is strongly linked to the end of societies in popular culture – for example in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. There is scientific reasoning behind this. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the latest report on the rates of fertility being at the lowest they have ever been since they began going down. [1] Fertility rates in the USA have continued to decline over the years since the Great Recession in 2008.

Possible Causes Of Fertility Drop

• Obesity is one of the issues that have been linked to infertility. This is because obesity has a negative effect on fertility. As long as the country continues to struggle with obesity, it will also face the impending doom of infertility. [2] This is because studies have also shown that obesity can be passed down through genes.

• Environmental pollution is another issue associated with infertility. Chemicals that get into people’s bodies cause disturbances in hormones and procreation functions. It is reported that the same is happening for the mammals at sea. Substances in plastics have for example been implicated as hormone disruptors and plastic food packaging is considered a potential culprit.

• Lifestyle changes and a diminished desire to have children as young adults. Personal timelines are another issue as many people are starting families later in life. The issue is that women, unlike men, encounter challenges when they try to get children later in life. [3] The only alternative they may have is freezing their eggs or borrowing from an egg donor.

• Lack of good childcare policies and parental leave options has also contributed to the low fertility problem. People are also choosing to have children later because of the hostility of policies offered by employers restricting family life. The cost of good childcare is also expensive, and this forces some people to put off bearing children for a while.

The Replacement Fertility Rate And The “Aging Society”

The US has been keeping track of the fertility rate, which has been gradually declining every year. While the rate has been dropping at a slight rate, the cause for worry is that it has been declining for around 10 consecutive years. This is a cause for concern since fertility rate is used as a measure for the nation’s wellbeing. [4] When it is too low, there is imminent risk of the country lacking sufficient fit young workers to ensure productivity. A very high rate, on the other hand, could exhaust resources.

The ‘replacement’ fertility rate which is 2.1, has been below the optimal level for several decades. This number has also been continuously dropping in recent years. Further suggestions have been made that the trend is a result of societal disorganization which cannot allow individuals to have the number of children they want. Other people have linked it to the state of the economy.

Researchers have also tied the low birth rate in the country as an input to the ‘aging society.’ This concept refers to having a greater portion of people above the age of 65 years compared to those below 15 years in the population. [4] Such a demographic composition will cause effects that are immensely felt in the community in the future.

References:

[1] Martin, Joyce A., et al. “Products – Data Briefs – Number 346 – July 2019.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 July 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db346.htm

[2] Park, Madison. “US Fertility Rate Falls to Lowest on Record.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Aug. 2016.

[3] Rowe, John W., et al. “Effects of Historically Low Birth Rate Will Reverberate for Years to Come.” The Hill, 21 May 2018, https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/388618-effects-of-low-birth-rates-will-reverberate-for-years-to-come

[4] Silvestris, Erica, et al. Obesity as disruptor of the female fertility. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 16.1 (2018): 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845358/

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