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Will dropping US fertility rates hurt the nation’s economy?




Woman plays with her new-born baby at a maternity hospital.
Woman plays with her new-born baby at a maternity hospital.
ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images

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U.S. fertility rates have hit a historic low.

That’s according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 provisional population data. The numbers showed that there were only 62 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. As reported in the Washington Post, the decline is due lower birth rates for teens and women in their early 20s.

With less teen pregnancy, and more access to health education and health care, this should be good news, right? Some economists disagree. With less population comes less labor force, and eventually more aging people without young relatives to care for them. In theory, this would lead to more cost to care for the elderly over time.

But some argue low birth rates could also boost the economy, giving women more time to focus on their careers and maintain finances. What do you think? Would lower birth rates help or hurt the economy?

Guests:

Ross DeVol, chief research officer at the Milken Institute; his research interests include population growth and labor force dynamics  

John Townsend, Ph.D., director of the Reproductive Health Program at the Population Council, a nonprofit organization; the council’s focus includes conducting research on contraceptive technologies and family planning