By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
Center for Family and Human Rights
NEW YORK, January 18 (C-Fam) “The 21st century is likely to see increasingly bitter struggles over the ramifications of declining fertility,” warns Lyman Stone, a population expert and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
“All our long-term obligations will have to be financed with substantially fewer people (or perhaps substantially more immigrants) than most actuarial projections assume,” he writes in a report published last month. Because of the “collective failure” of federal agencies to anticipate this scenario, according to Stone, America is not at all prepared to confront the social and fiscal challenges of low fertility.
The Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Administration, and Medicare have just assumed long-term U.S. fertility near replacement level, without ever attempting to test alternate demographic scenarios, Stone notes in his report. They were not alone.
Even as U.S. fertility declined over the last two decades, U.S. demographers have held off predicting the worst possible demographic scenarios in the hope that economic conditions might stabilize U.S. fertility. But the data is in, and Stone’s report brings home just how much these hopes have been vain.