I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the birth rate in the U.S. has dropped with the recession, and many, many men are freaking out about it. In a nutshell, they fear that low birth rates will lead to an unsustainable inequality between the taxable work force and the social security-dependent elderly. After all, people are living longer and longer and, barring some sort of zombie apocalypse situation, this trend will continue.
You’d think it would be a no-brainer, but many of the articles out there fail to mention the demographic that actually carries and births the future citizens of this fine country: the women. Cue people like Irin Carmon, a lady who spoke up to bring women back in to the fertility conversation.
Four men recently gathered to discuss this impending baby-less doom on KCRW, and Carmon was the only woman invited. She talked about the difficulty of living in a pronatalist culture without supportive pronatalist policies or incentives, reminding the men that no woman should be manipulated into having children. Then, one of the gentlemen, Jonathan Last, attempted to steer her away from the “anecdotal” and back to the “numbers.” Let’s not get hysterical here!
Irin Carmon wrote a follow-up article to further elucidate the discussion. She decries the rather far-fetched allegations that women are making a selfish decision by choosing not to have kids, and points out that “lots of women are making rational decisions about how many children to have.” The bottom line is that babies cost lots of green, so we may have to figure out another tactic to fill the tax-payer gap. May we suggest immigration reform? Or perhaps we could follow a European model that rewards good parenting with financial incentives?
Carmon finishes her article by noting the political convenience of blaming society’s financial decline on women’s reproductive freedom. Although the United States will need to evolve social policy to fit our changing demographics, there’s no proof that popping out babies is the easy fix.
Photos via filmrevival.blogspot.com, bitchmagazine.org, change.org