Jonathan V. Last, editor of the Weekly Standard and author of the forthcoming book, What to Expect When No One's Expecting (Encounter, 2013), comments in his e-letter today about the recent report from the Pew Research Center about falling fertility rates in the U.S.:
Last week the general public had a momentary freak-out when it was reported that U.S. fertility rates had hit their lowest point since 1920. The news made it into the front pages of the Washington Post and USA Today and it was as if, for a moment, mainstream America awoke to the fact that our demographics are terrible. And getting worse.
But then the moment passed and everyone went back to worrying about the fiscal cliff and the royal pregnancy. Such is the nature of media.
It's worth looking into the new numbers in a little more depth, though, because they give you a reasonably good sense as to what's happening in our society.
So here's the top-line: Between 2007 and 2010, the U.S. birthrate dropped 8 percent, to the level of 64 births for every 1,000 women. The preliminary data for 2011 shows it sliding still more, to 63.2. This is as barren as America has ever been. For some contrast: During the Great Depression—when it really collapsed—the birth rate bottomed out in the high 70s. In the 1970s—when fertility rates all across the Western world entered a death spiral—the birth rate never dipped much lower than 65. Our birth rate is now lower than it was both during the greatest economic calamity, and the greatest social upheaval, in modern American history.
One striking (and sobering) aspect, Last notes, is that the birth rates among immigrants are not just falling, but are plummeting: