October 5th, 2012

Wibbledy Weep

The USA's birth rate is at a record low, and the reporting of that troubles me.

[twitter.com profile] ConradHackett linked to this graph of the birth rate in the USA:


Which clearly shows good news - that the birth rate continues to decline, and thus we continue to be on course for the global population replenishment rate hitting neutrality:
Years TFR
1950–1955 4.95
1955–1960 4.89
1960–1965 4.91
1965–1970 4.85
1970–1975 4.45
1975–1980 3.84
1980–1985 3.59
1985–1990 3.39
1990–1995 3.04
1995–2000 2.79
2000–2005 2.62
2005–2010 2.52
2010–2015 2.36

And that this is likely to lead to something like the middle estimates here:


with world population plateauing just below 10 billion in 2150 and then gently declining. Which is great news, if somewhat disappointing for those hoping for a Malthusian Apocalypse.

So, what am I troubled by? Pretty much _all_ of the reporting I could find when I went looking for an article to link to said "The birth rate is dropping. That's awful for the economy!"* - as if the only reason to care about the number of births was that there wouldn't be enough kids around to keep their parents in the style to which they'd become accustomed. The fact that infinite population growth is generally believed to be a bad thing doesn't trouble them - so long as they can link a story to the economy, and worry people that America is Doomed**.



*For instance.
**In this case doomed to become Europe. Oh, the poor things.



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