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Low Fertility Causes 'Very Real Problems' For Developed Nations' Economies

“In recent years, nearly every demographic study has painted a dire picture of the world’s changing demographics. Yet when the U.N. issued its latest report this past May, it seemed almost sunny,” Jonathan Last, senior writer at the Weekly Standard, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He says that “[t]he catch is that it may not be true” because “the U.N. has had to make one very big assumption: Starting tomorrow, every country in the world with fertility below the replacement rate of 2.10 will increase its fertility. And this rise will continue unabated, year after year, until every First World country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) near replacement.”

Last concludes, “Low fertility is a world-wide phenomenon and it causes all sorts of very real problems. As populations age and shrink, the labor force contracts and the tax base dwindles while the costs of support for pensioners increase. Then economic dynamism sputters as the demand for everything (except health care) decreases. Low fertility is modernity’s great trap. But we cannot just assume our way out of it” (8/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.