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Experts sound the alarm on falling birth rates among younger generations: “It’s a crisis”


New data confirms a baby boomer that some doctors say was actually a “baby bust.” Health departments in 27 states provided CBS News with records showing a 7% drop in births in December – nine months after the first lockdowns began.

Researchers say this continues a much larger drop in fertility over the past few decades.

The number of babies an average woman in the United States is expected to deliver has dropped from nearly four in the 1950s to fewer than two today.

This drop could present an entirely different risk to society than that first warned decades ago – when an apocalyptic fear gripped America in the 1960s and 1970s.

“The stakes in this battle are far greater than any we have ever fought,” Walter Cronkite said on a CBS News show in 1970. “Experts we interviewed told us that people were the fundamental crisis. . “

As the world moved towards 10 billion people, many researchers then predicted that overpopulation would ruin mankind.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich once referred to the threat as “the demographic bomb,” the title of a book he authored in 1968.

“In the next 15 years the end will come – and at the end, I mean a complete disruption of the planet’s ability to support humanity,” he said on a 1970 show.

Today, however, a very different note is struck by researchers like Professor Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California, who studies demographic trends.

“The problem is, we’ve gone over it and we’ve lowered it too much now,” said Myers, “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil.

As the world’s population continues to grow, a major study published in The Lancet in 2020 predicted that it would peak in 2064 and then drop by nearly a billion people by the turn of the century – the reason being, fewer babies.

The United States is already below the so-called “replacement level” by some measures, which means fewer young people to support the country’s aging population.

Myers said of the decline, “it’s a crisis.”

“We need enough people of working age to carry the burden of these elderly people, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their rights and they will live another 30 years,” he said. “No one in the history of the world has had to deal with so many old people.”

The Coronavirus pandemic It also makes the problem worse – despite what some people previously thought.

“We thought, oh, we’d see a baby boom. But we just didn’t see it,” said Dr. David Jaspan, director of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Jaspan said patients are worried not only about their health, but also about their finances.

“I get a report every morning at 5:15 am on what has happened in the past 24 hours. And the first report I see is the number of deliveries in the past 24 hours,” Jaspan said. “It’s less than before.”

The Brookings Institution has predicted “a large and lasting bust” of at least 300,000 fewer children in 2021.

For Laura Lindberg, who tracks reproduction data for the Guttmacher Institute, declining births could be a sign of progress – a marker of women’s equality and freedom of choice.

“So it’s a shift towards later in life. In that shift comes more education, more careers, more jobs. So it’s a reorganization of the way people work. engage in adulthood, ”explained Lindberg.

Dowell Myers doesn’t disagree – but overall he fears the falling birth rate is also a “barometer of desperation.”

Myers said he never expected to talk about a drop in the birth rate around the world in his lifetime.

Asked what has changed, he pointed to “the burdens of life”.

“The cost of housing, the cost of education, all of those things have gotten more and more difficult,” Dowell said. “I think the baby boomers themselves don’t realize how harder it is for millennials today. And they think, ‘Oh yeah, when we were young we had to live, you know, on very little money, and we got by, and you can do the same.’ It’s history, isn’t it? Well no, it’s really much more difficult for young people today. It’s amazing how much more difficult it is. “

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