Here is something that continues to surprise me: We are not having enough babies. By "we," I mean the people of the world in general. Yes, the world population is increasing. Yesterday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world’s population was 7,067,783,333. Of course, that could be off a couple or three either way. At the same time, the U.S. population was a mere 315,371,598. I don’t know how they figure that out. Somebody smarter than I am does it. Maybe they just make it up. Who’s going to check up on them, after all?
The fertility rate of the United States is growing only slightly at 2.06, says the Central Intelligence Agency. Others, such as author Jonathan Last, who wrote the book "What to Expect When No One’s Expecting," say the U.S. fertility rate is 1.93. Demographers believe a fertility rate of 2.1 is necessary to maintain a stable population. The rate is based on the average number of children per woman in a given population.
Some people would say it is lovely that birth rates are going down, but don’t tell the Chinese that. China, once among the most prolific of countries, now has a birth rate of 1.54. If that continues, China will soon be out of Chinese — and we will be out of people to make our clothes, toys and electronic gadgets, and lend us the money to buy all that stuff and keep our country running.
The lower a country’s birthrate, the harder it will be for the population to take care of its pensioners. That is a scary thing for politicians who know pensioners vote like machines for those who make sure their pensions don’t stop coming every month, and against those who suggest those pensions perhaps should go away.
Some of our friends are about to face those problems. Germany’s fertility rate is 1.36, Japan’s 1.4. Their cultures may be on the road to disappearance. Will ours be far behind?