Friday, December 21, 2007

Increasing Fertility in US

US fertility is increasing. That was implied in the story a couple of weeks ago about the rise in teen pregnancy: birth rates were rising in all age groups.
The prize for the dumbest comment goes to this UN population official:
What matters is that the U.S. is probably one of very few industrialized countries that have a fertility rate close to or at replacement level," says José Antonio Ortega, head of the fertility section at the United Nations' Population Division.... countries in Europe and Asia have launched several government initiatives to encourage more births, from financial bonuses and extended family leaves to subsidized child care.

The wide availability of birth control options and more career opportunities for women have caused fertility rates to hit low levels in Japan, South Korea, Italy, Germany and Russia. France, renowned for its family friendly policies, remains the exception with a fertility rate of 2.

"What is paradoxical is that the U.S. doesn't have those (family friendly) policies and it has higher fertility," Ortega says.

I consider this a dumb comment because it is so obvious to anyone even slightly acquainted with the data. Those "family friendly" policies are not about helping women have more babies. The policies are about keeping women at work and getting more work out of them. These policies do not increase the birth rate. Even France's replacement level fertility would probably evaporate, if you factored out the higher fertility rates of Muslim/African families in France. In other words, the (very expensive) policies designed to allow professional women to have babies almost certainly do not raise the fertility rate among their target population.

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