Declining Birthrates

Will the trend worsen global economic woes?


Nations around the globe worry that low or falling birthrates will cause severe economic problems, including shortages of workers to pay into social security systems to support growing numbers of retirees. While the coming retirement of American baby boomers engenders concern, the United States is exceptional among major industrialized Western nations because its birthrate produces enough children to maintain the population as elderly people die. Most of Europe as well as Japan and China are well below population replacement levels. The current global economic downturn could worsen the situation by forcing young couples to postpone having children until the economy improves. Meanwhile, governments are casting about for solutions, such as cutting spending on the elderly, requiring workers to stay on the job longer before drawing ...

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