Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mothers, Young Muslims and Old Movies

In my last post I provided an overview of Jonathan Last's book, "What To Expect When No One's Expecting", which looks at the challenging consequences to society of declining birth rates.

This book is not only a page turner but you will also end up highlighting a good portion of the book for later reference with its endless string of information and insights.  I know did.

Here are a few from both categories that I thought worthy of highlighting as I read the book.

  • In 1965, when the average woman had three children and was a stay-at-home mother, she spent 10.6 hours per week on the kids. The average mother worked 6 hours per week. The average married father dedicated 2.6 hours per week to the brood. 

  • Today, even with 60% of mothers working outside the home (an overall average of 23.6 hours per week), they are putting in an average of 12.6 hours per week with the kids and fathers have cranked it up to 6.5 hours per week.  No wonder parents are so stressed and frazzled today.  There are still only 24 hours in a day!
1960's Mother

2013 Mother
Photo Credit:

  • American women say that 2.5 children, on average, is the ideal family size but 20.4% end their childbearing years with no children, 16.9% have just one and 34.4% end up with two.  

  • Declining birth rates do not immediately translate to lower population.  You don't see the effects of population declines until the last above-replacement generation dies.  In the case of the United States, that is the Baby Boom generation.  Some European countries are already there.

  • The average age of first marriage for women increased from 20.3 years in 1950 to 26.0 in 2007.

  • At age 24, a woman's chance of being infertile is 3%.  At age 34 it is 8%.  By age 35, half of women trying to get pregnant over an 8 month period will not be successful.  By age 39, a women has a 15% chance of not being able to conceive at all.  At age 43, her chances of getting pregnant are near zero.  Delaying childbearing is a direct challenge to human biology.

  • In 1960, only 5% of all births were out of wedlock. In 1980 it was 18%.  In 2008 it was 41%!

  • Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, 49.5 million babies have been aborted in the U.S.

  • In 1976, 20% of women had five or more children and another 16% had four children.  Today, only 1.8% of mothers have five or more children.

  • During the Depression through World War II, housing starts averaged less than 100,000 per year.  There were more housing starts in 2005 (2.1 million) than during that entire 16 year period between 1929 and 1945.  We have averaged about 700,000 housing starts per year since 2008 in "The Great Recession".

  • As the number of children born to a couple decrease, "the little dears become more dear".  Societies with low birth rates are very reluctant to endorse wars that their leaders might want to wage because of this.

  • 23% of German men say that zero is the ideal family size.

  • 80% of civil conflicts occur in countries where more than 60% or the population is under age 30. (most of the Middle East right now).  For example, nearly 2/3 of Egyptians are under the age of 30.  24% of Iran's population is under age 14.  42% of those living in the Gaza Strip and 35% of Syria's population are under age 15.  Other countries % of those under age 15.  Egypt 32%, Israel 28%, US 20%, China 16%, Russia 15%, Japan 13%, Germany 13%.
Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images

  • Europe as we have known it for the last 15 centuries is on a path to fade away over the next 50 years to what will most likely be a Muslim dominated region.

  • Since 1970 vehicle land miles driven by Americans have increased by 150% but we have only added 5% to our highway capacity.  Now you know why you are stuck in traffic on the way home from work to pick up your child at daycare!

  • One of the major obstacles to more births are the high costs of raising children and high taxes on working families, particularly FICA taxes.  If you think about it, each parent of a child is bearing the cost of developing a future taxpayer.  It is essentially an investment that the whole country will benefit from in the future. People without children do not bear that cost.  However, both will draw the same Social Security and Medicare benefits when they are older.  Those benefits must be paid by those children's future taxes.  That is the way the system was designed. If taxes are not paid by the next generation, no Social Security benefits are going to be there for anybody. 
One researcher has suggested that parents receive a "Parental Dividend" to offset FICA taxes and reduce the current disincentive to have children.  For example, reduce FICA taxes by one-third for the first child, two-thirds for two and in full for three until they turn 18.  I like that idea even though I have already fully paid all the bills for three current and future contributing taxpayers. 

How about a dividend on the dividend for new parents? 

Credit: Wikipedia

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