Saturday, June 28, 2008

Birthrates again

I am still thinking about birthrates, but haven't posted about it lately.

The NY Times Magazine ran No Babies?, a long article about Europe's declining population and low birthrates. I only skimmed it and will reread it more carefully after the costuming ordeal. It looks like Russell Shorto covers a lot of ground in the article. I don't completely agree with his analysis of why birthrates are higher in the US and Scandinavia.

I met a Swedish mother of two (spaced 12 years apart) in New Zealand. She attributed her willingness to bear a second child to a robust economy and job security, not the welfare state. She said that Swedish people tend to be planners; they save ahead for things. She saved for a second child; labor laws also gave her confidence that she could retain her job or find another high-quality job if she bore a second child.

Women in the US are not as secure about their ability to regain a place in the paid labor force as he suggests. If you take away recent immigrants from high-fertility countries, the US fertility rate would be much lower. My fertility rate, one, is par for highly educated women in the US. Immigrants from east Asia, like myself, also have the lowest fertility of all immigrant groups in the US. I am only slightly sub-par for that group. (Coincidentally, east Asian immigrant women and black women have the highest paid workforce participation and lower than average fertility.)

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