The great population growth slowdown

“Fewer babies were born in New York City in 2020 than any year on record, while the US population grew by just 0.1 percent in the year between July 2020 and July 2021, with the country adding just 392,665 people from net migration and births over deaths.

That’s the lowest numeric increase since the Census Bureau began making annual population estimates at the beginning of the 20th century.On a percentage basis, it’s the lowest growth in the nation’s history.

Increased deaths from the pandemic plays a role, as do inevitably creeping mortality rates in an aging population. But the primary cause is declining fertility rates, as fewer Americans have children, and those that do tend to have smaller families. The total fertility rate in the US — an estimate of the average total number of children a woman will have over her lifetime — has declined from 2.12 in 2007 to 1.64 in 2020, well below the 2.1 needed for a population to replace itself without immigration.”

“By one estimate, half the world’s population lives in countries with below-replacement-level fertility, and nations like Japan — with very low birth rates and little immigration — are already experiencing population decline.

China, which became a symbol for population control with its coercive one-child policy, now has a fertility rate even lower than Japan’s, and the government is struggling to convince shrinking numbers of young people to have more children — or any children at all.”  

“there’s some evidence that many people aren’t having as many children as they would like to. Surveys in the US show that the stated ideal number of kids in a family has stayed a little above 2.5 since the mid-2000s, even as actual fertility rates have declined. Whether because of delayed partnership and marriageeconomic concerns, or changing lifestyle preferences, there are forces keeping population growth below the level that people say they want.”

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