Record Number of Women Childless-What long term impacts on society if this continues?

Interesting article on a major demographic shift over the last few decades. Is this a good or bad thing in the long run for modern industrial economies? Is this anything to be concerned about or not re future societies becoming top heavy with older people?

Record Number of Women Childless

Some of article below



I’m so sick of this depressing scaremongering on how bad the West has become. If there is anyone out there who could reaffirm my love affair in the civilisation in which I live in, I hope you could reach me soon…

Actually, according to demographic transition theory, the US SHOULD be experiencing a decline in the birth rate.

The long term effects shouold be an eventual levelling off of the population, assuming the death rate also declines

What do you mean by future societies ? Its already affecting the welfare state in Europe and has US economists worried. The population in the developed countries are fastly becoming top heavy with older people… much due to better medical treatments as well.

Now unless you want to suggest we should force women to have babies its a sign of the times. Apparently thou poor women are keeping birthrates high… or Government will have to help out women economically speaking in order to give “incentives” to having kids: Tax breaks or cash.

This confused me. Poor women are keeping the birthrate high (by having lots of babies, I presume) or the Gov will have to give rich women incentives to have kids? Either the poor women are keeping the birthrate high or the gov is giving them tax breaks? The poor women are keeping the birthrate high or the gov will give women cash? If it weren’t for the poor women having a lot of babies the government would have to give me cash to have babies?

Could you please clarify this for me?

I think that a statistic telling us the numbers of women between 15 and 44 with no children is pretty much a meaningless statistic. After all, the 15 year olds have plenty of time, don’t they?

Much better would be a statistic on the numbers of women in their forties who don’t have children, and how that compares to women in their fifties - that would actually tell us something.

It is true that people in general are having kids later in life than in previous generations (I think the average in Oz for a woman’t first kid has gone from about 23 to about 28 or 29 in the last generation), but from the point of view of total population distribution this is all fairly irrelevant - the meaningful statistic is how many kids they’ll have over their lifetime. That’s probably going down too, but I bet the effect is nowhere near so dramatic.

Finally, I find it hard to get into much of a moral panic (I know the OP wasn’t doing that, but plenty of people do) about how we in the West aren’t having “enough” children to support society in the future when there’s still millions of poor people from Third World countries who’d give their right arms to be permitted to come over here and do just that. We want young citizens for our countries in the next 30 years? They’re not going to be very hard to find

…and also much better would be me reading the OP with closer attention to detail - because they do give more-or-less that statistic, and it has been fairly stable over the last 10 years.

The US population is growing at about 1% per year so I doubt it’s facing any demographic problem. As mentioned above the 15-44 statistic isn’t particularly meaningful. However there is a problem for most other rich countries where the birth rates are significantly lower. There is no reason why it should inevitably lead to a crisis though. Their citizens will just have to work for more years which is relatively easy because old people are healthier than ever. There is nothing sacrosanct about 20+ years of paid retirement. The other potential problem is the reduction of citizens of military age. However even with a lower population these countries will probably be able to maintain militaries powerful enough to deter any rival. There is also the US and if necessary nuclear weapons.

Well, there was an interesting article at the Economist about the shifting demographic tends, particulary comparing the US with Europe, but it seems the artical now requires a subscription.

Right now, the birth rate of Western Europe is well below replacement levels - from 1.26 in Italy to 1.85 in France, with other countries inbetween. Meanwhile, the US birth rate is just below replacement level, at 2.07. All figures take from CIA World Factbook

The Economist Article argued, that given the US’s higher immigration rates, and the fact that immigrates tend to have quite a few children, the birthrate of the US will actually get above replacement level again for a period of time. That, combined with the dropping birthrates of Europe, will result in the US passing Europe in population in about 30 years or so, and with the generally higher per capita income among Americans, that there will be a general decline in European influence worldwide.

The population decline is going to hit Europe hard, especially with their cushy pension plans. Still, your typical European will be richer than most of the world for a good time to come, and given geography, and Europes general tech lead, I don’t see any real external military threat for them in next 60 years or so, barring Russia really getting their act together, or the United States getting really hostile a couple decades in the future.

There was also an interesting article in US News and World Report in 1999 entitled “The World Turns Gray” that addressed the issue regarding the deline in the birthrates of the Developed World (US/Canada, Europe, Japan, etc.), along with the trends worldwide. It’s located in the US News and World Report Archives, so you’ll have to pay $$ to read the article.

In a nutshell, the world’s population is getting older. In fact, if current demographic trends continue worldwide (reduction in birthrates for Developed and Underveloped countries alike), by roughly 2050 there will be a larger percentage of the World’s population 60-65 years or older than the percentage of the world’s population 15 years old or less - something that’s never happened before in human history.

Implications - rising healthcare and pension costs for the developed countries. Shifting of (limited) governmental resources in the underdeveloped countries (or outright lack of resources altogether). The Developed countries will have the necessary wealth/resources to weather the change in demographics. The poorer countries will not (thus making their development all the more difficult - the poorer countries will most likely get older before they begin to see economic progress).

At some point, the developed countries will seriously need to address increased immigration as a possible remidy. I don’t think it will be much of a problem for the US (historically we’ve had a higher rate of immigration than most other developed nations).

On the other hand, Europe will most definitely need to reconsider it’s current immigration policies. I know in some countries cases, there is a growing (although still small) vocal minority in each that wants to roll back immigration rates - but for Europe to maintain itself as a major economic player it will need to overcome this trend.

Japan will eventually need to address immigration as a possible remidy as well. As it stands now (if current demographic trends continue), Japan will lose roughly 25-30 million people by 2100. I believe (although don’t cite me on this because I’m going from memory), Japan has tried to convince it’s population in having more children (I believe it was through some sort of tax incentive) with little success so far.

Yeah, but those people arn’t Whi…I mean…ummm…oriented towards Western civilization. Imagine if America was full of Brow…I mean not oriented towards Western civilizations people! It’d be a tragety. We’d lose the most powerful whi…err…oriented towards Western civilization nation in the world. It’s our duty to keep America full of whi…mmm…oriented towards Western Civilization! Would you like whi…oriented towards Western Civilization people to die out?

For the life of me I can’t figure out why a Catholic country like Mexico is considered not a part of Western Civilization though. Actually. I think I have a clue.

As many of you’ve mentioned, the only reason the US is not decreasing in population is through imigration.

“Top-heavy” countries in Europe are doing anything they can to make people have more babies (short of puncturing condoms and and selling “placebo” contraceptives). You may get a year’s maternity leave, even paternity leave. Welfare countries like Sweden might get you a bigger flat and even subsidise your nappies and other baby stuff. in these European countries, the welfare stae is in brow-deep poop, because there almost as many pensioners as wage-earners.

Another important factor is the lack of new workers.

Two thoughts:

1.) As others have said, governments in all the industrial countries, including the U.S., Japan, and Europe, have all tried to increase birth rates by offering tax cuts, and sometimes other incentives. And they’ve all failed. And I can guarantee you that they will continue to fail. The question of whether or not to have children is an intensely personal one. If you have a child, it will have a huge effect on every area of your life. It’s rather silly to believe that $500 (or even $5000) is going to sway people. Besides which, the amounts being offered are trivial compared to the cost of raising a child. A recent article is Salon (it’s only for paid subscribers) said that for a child born today, the cost of college on average will be around $150,000. For a top-notch private school, it will be $400,000.

2.) Children born today won’t truly enter the workforce for more than twenty years, and they won’t be the largest wage-earning class until they’re middle-aged, which would be about 2050. Quite frankly, a lot can change in a society during that period of time, and trying to predict how much money we’ll need in order to support the elderly at that time is futile. Maybe some medical processes will become automated, and the cost of medical care will fall. Maybe new technology will help people remain indepentdent for longer. Maybe something that we can’t even predict will entirely change the structure of society.

Thank-you. Both in the U.K, and in Oz too, I think it’s fair to say, is it not Aspidistra?, we treat our asylum seekers and economic migrants pretty appallingly. In the U.K, all this anti immigrant feeling is whipped up by tabloid newspapers who try and convince us that all immigrants are scroungers who come to the U.K and immediately sign on for welfare, or, on the other hand, that they are “stealing” jobs that English people would otherwise get.

All these people are going to look very silly in a few years time, when we are begging them to immigrate into the U.K, and they’ll be telling us to get lost because we treated them so appallingly before.


It’s funny how generally, those who are most concerned about us wimmin not pushing out babies are also anti-immigration, or at least don’t see that as a valid option to bolstering our population. I must be really unimaginative, because that leaves me able to draw only one conclusion. They want more of “us”, not them. And that couldn’t be possible, because we’re an enlightened, educated, compassionate, modern Western society, far beyond the stupidity and ignorance of rascism. Right ?!?

Besides, all those subsidies have no significant impact on the birth rate. People generally have kids because they want to. Not because they’ll be given a several thousand dollars… which is not to say that they turn it down if it’s offered, but it’s a waste, as it isn’t encouraging what it’s supposed to encourage.

At the moment, the current generation of wage earners is having to pay for the welfare of their parents, and also make provision for their own old age as there is no guaruntee that the next generation will be able to support them.

Add to this that this current group of wage earners is also being asked to fund ever more consumer oriented lifestyles for their young, and it is pretty obvious why the birthrate is declining.

One group of wage earners is effectively having to support three demographics, and since the changes in pension funds, from underperformance to rules changes, it looks like these will probably have to work longer, in th UK women retired at age 60 and men at 65, but this is seen as sexist, so the ages ware going to be equalised, no prizes for guessing which way.

0n top of this, some workers have appaerently been to law to ensure they have the ‘right’ to work beyond normal retirement age.
This is of course only a personal choice, you understand, and I note that those who state they want to work so late in life tend to have very much less arduous work than the blue collar workers, and have generally enjoyed a greater income, yet it is the presedents they are setting that will ensure that the rest of us will have a ‘choice’ of living elderly in poverty, or working until we drop dead.

Oddly enough, more houses are needed, as the average household size has also decreased, where once it was usual for four people to live in one house, now it is more normal to have three, and the number of single people is also increasing.
This means that despite a falling population, there is need for ever more housing on this already overcrowded island of the UK.

Still tax breaks… good public schools… and other financial considerations might help women who do want babies and might have second thoughts due to economic reasons. I think Sweden actually was pretty (even too) generous and it seemed to work. (Could any Swedes give feedback on this ?)

Immigrants are part of a solution... but overall I feel immigration is not the best solution.

(BTW I meant to say that Poor women have higher birthrates overall… AND that tax breaks might help a bit.)

It’s been predicted by many - I know Edward O. Wilson reiterates the figures in one of his books ; I’m not sure where he says they’re from - that the world’s population is expected to peak at 10 or 11 billion a bit past the midpoint of this century, then decline. We’ve talked about the problems that could cause, but I think we’re missing some of the positives. For one, the more people we have, the more of a strain that’ll be on the world and its resources. I know most of the population increase will come from developing countries, but they’ll be more developed in the future and thus be polluting more, etc. Also, things like declining birthrate are generally associated with increased wealth, better education, and a lot of other social plusses. If that trend continues, a lot of people will benefit from it.

Fuck tax cuts. Unless a woman really, really wants to have a child, it’s going to take more than tax cuts. What is needed are real guarantees that a woman will be able to get affordable childcare, not be discriminated against in the workplace, and not jeopardise affect her career, etc etc.

And of course there aren’t any of these guarantees. So for those of us that aren’t really into being parents, it’s just not worth it. It is just too much of a career and lifestyle sacrifice (unless you want to actively want to change over to a family, more child-centric lifestyle).

Studies in this part of the world also show that as soon as women get educated, family size plummets.

Without yet having seen any statistics on the subject, I’d be willing to bet a fair sum that the results of incentives in Sweden was as follows:

Immediate spike in birthrate, followed by slow tailing off until it was back to normal levels within 4 or 5 years.

That is, any jump in birthrates would be due to people having their planned children sooner, rather than changing the numbers of children they wish to have in total.