Thursday, August 16, 2012

If Demographics Are Destiny: "American fertility is now lower than that of France"

From the Economist:

CONSERVATIVE Americans like to contrast the vigour and virility of their own country with the decadence and decline of Europe. Demography is exhibit A in their argument. Mitt Romney, for example, talked about Europe’s “demographic disaster” as he ended his presidential bid in 2008, calling it “the inevitable product of weakened faith in the creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality”.

Americans especially like to focus on the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman can expect to have during her lifetime. For years, America was unusual among rich countries in having a relatively high TFR of around 2.1, the so-called “replacement rate”, at which a population stabilises over the long term. European countries were typically below that rate, sometimes far below it.

So it comes as something of a shock to discover that in 2011 America’s fertility rate was below replacement level and below that of some large European countries. The American rate is now 1.9 and falling. France’s is 2.0 and stable. The rate in England is 2.0 and rising slightly....MORE