They Aren’t Making Babies Like They Used To

Americans are having fewer babies, but that is not a bad thing. It is good for teenagers, good for women, and good for the economy. (It’s also good for the environment, as I reported for Care2 here).

One theory that experts offer to explain the declining birth rate is the economy, hypothesizing that women do not have children they feel they cannot afford. But that explanation doesn’t fully explain the actions of two groups of women: teenagers, and adults who choose never to have kids.

Another theory holds that the fewer children are born, the weaker the economy will be when they grow up, but that doesn’t take into account immigration or the decisions of childfree adults.

The government reports that “Birth rates for teen moms have been falling since 1991 and hit another historic low [in 2011]. The number of teen births last year — about 330,000 — was the fewest in one year since 1946.”

It’s hard to argue that teenagers should have more babies. There are elevated health risks both for teenage mothers and their babies. The majority of younger teenage mothers do not graduate high school, and those who do move on to jobs tend to earn relatively low wages, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The fact that they are having fewer children is great news.

It is partly explained by contraception. The “use of contraceptives during first premarital sex has been increasing,” according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute. As of 2008, 84% of people having premarital sex for the first time, most of whom are teens, used birth control. That is up from only 56% using birth control before 1985.

Obamacare will increase this percentage even more because it will make contraceptives free through insurance companies by January 1st, 2013.

Childfree Women

The number of women who choose not to have children is on the rise. These women’s decisions, which contribute to the decline in American fertility rates, are evidence of increasing independence and opportunity for women. They reveal a weakening of the traditional view that womanhood and motherhood are practically the same thing, that women who don’t become mothers are not doing their job or fulfilling their potential.

The falling birth rates in the United States may mean that more women are taking control over their lives, establishing goals and planning how to reach them, and thinking with an open mind about how, when, and whether children fit into their life plans. Relaxing social mores to make it acceptable for adults not to want children broadens women’s horizons.

The Economy

Some fear that low birth rates will hurt the economy down the line. For example, the Social Security (and Medicare) taxes deducted from working adults’ paychecks go directly to support retired people. If there are fewer working adults in the future because of low birth rates today, the reasoning goes, there will be less money to support retirees in the future.

There are three reasons not to worry. First, the United States has no shortage of people who want to immigrate here and whose paychecks will help support the Social Security system.

Second, while today’s childfree adults are not creating future workers, they are helping to educate them. Like other property owners, the childfree pay taxes that support local schools. With fewer children in school, and taxes coming in from a growing number of people who don’t have children of their own in the school system, schools will have more money to spend per student. Better education and training could translate into higher earning power, which could also help fund Social Security.

Third, while the government gives tax credits to people who have dependent children, it doesn’t give credits to taxpayers with no kids. More money in government coffers means more ability to shore up the economy should it face trouble.

The United States’ falling birth rates are evidence of great progress for teenagers and for women who prefer not to have children, and they are not cause for economists to worry.

Related Stories:

Teen Birthrates Drop Thanks to Smart Sex Ed

Study Confirms Obamacare’s Birth Control Mandate Could Reduce Abortion Rate

Human Overpopulation Threatens Our Survival


Gigi D.
Theresa D4 years ago

So if few teen are having kids, then what's up with the pool of girls on MTV 16 and pre.

Amber Grisetti
Amber Laverack5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this, it'll help me out in a debate with a friend!

Daphne T.
Daphne T.5 years ago

There's another thing you people need to keep in mind. Traditional Western funeral practices are destructive to the planet! Unless you’ve maintained an organic vegan diet your entire life, your body is full of toxins, making it a walking time bomb of pollution. After death, the human body becomes essentially a mass of “toxic waste,” and its burial in Mother Earth is as destructive to the environment.

The only way to erase the Carbon Footprint caused by death is through the purchase of specially designed Funeral Carbon Credits. Our company sells Carbon Credits which are the only hope of saving the planet. To learn more about Funeral Carbon Credits please visit

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Vice President, Public Relations

Daphne T.
Daphne T.5 years ago

You people need to learn a thing or two about Global Warming. Everyday living is destructive to the Environment. One of the most important ways people can help save the environment is to STOP HAVING BABIES. Another very important thing you can do is to euthanize your pet. Our company sells Carbon Credits which are the only hope of saving the planet.

For the sake of the planet, we need to act before it’s too late.

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

success? perhaps a step in the right direction. but having children isn't so bad.. we can't just END humans. people who arent ready or responsible should not have children (or chances to get pregnant). neither should people who really dont want them or who plan to abort anyway. just use protection, contraception is a friend

Danii Ro
Danii R5 years ago

Interesting read.

I grew up the only child... I was lonely when I was grounded but other than that, I felt loved and had a pretty close knit family exerience wih only my parents and grandmother. I didn't need a huge family to feel loved. My husband has a younger sister and they fought and argued and barely speak to one another now. His family is huge and very disfunctional but that's another story.

Just one example that you don't need a huge, overwhleming family in order to be appreciated. I think famalies who choose to have one or even two chidlren is completely acceptable and econmically safe. However, famalies like the Duggars and other TLC massive family member braodcast shows should be hacked from television for supporting popping out 20 kids in one life span. That's just ridiculous and it shouldn't be supported, imo. What kind of life advertisement is that?

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Neat article.

Stop making children.
We are too many.
Overpopulation is bad for everything and everyone.
If I am ever willing to have a child, I am going to adopt one.

Therese D: "By 2050 in Spain and Italy, 60% of the population will have no brothers or sisters, no cousins and no aunts and uncles, does that sound good or wise? how can you create a community and society if there are no families at its core? How can you promote family support, love, loyalty, selflessness?"

Wow, what an ignorant statement. You sound like a conservative of the worst kind. Like others wisely said, get a clue and be aware of what we are doing to the planet.

Melanie W.
Melanie W5 years ago

I'd say a lil decline is a good thing, everywhere, overall. I don't know about the details but I do know about overpopulation.

Xan A.
Xan A.5 years ago

At some point our population growth must hit zero??? Maybe someone should tell that to the Muslims!

Ernest Roth
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Therese D. “There is enough land and resources for everyone and more”. I am wondering what planet you live on. The one I live on requires two or three more planets to supply enough land and resources to make a pleasant life for the billions of overpopulation we have been blessed with. “ By 2050 in Spain and Italy, 60% of the population will have no brothers or sisters, no cousins and no aunts and uncles” How on Earth will that come about ? Are they planning mass suicide there ? I doubt that they are even adopting a policy of population limited to replacement. I was an only child, no great tragedy. My wife had one brother. My daughter, an only child, has an aunt, an uncle, and two cousins on her mother’s side. Where do you get your really bizarre ideas ? Do you read about the animal extinctions, the destruction of rain forests, the millions newly reduced to poverty ? Do you live in an institution ?