- What some once predicted would be a pandemic”baby boom” is actually turning out to be a “baby bust.”
- But AOC said the real culprit behind the crisis is the numerous hardships facing “entire generations.”
- Experts agree and say the 2020 fall is part of a larger, ongoing decline in birth rates.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Amid the country’s ongoing birth rate decline, one lawmaker is denouncing the systemic obstacles she believes are contributing to the fall.
New data from health departments in more than two dozen states suggests the pandemic-driven “baby bust” experts warned of maybe starting to materialize.
But Ocasio-Cortez said the root of the issue goes beyond the lockdowns of the last twelve months.
“The actual crisis is how entire generations are sunk w/inhumane levels of student debt, low incomes, high rent, no guarantee of healthcare & little action on climate change,” she tweeted.
Those hurdles, she said, create “a situation where feeling stable enough to have a kid can feel more like a luxury than a norm.”
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 3, 2021
While state health records provided to CBS News show a 7% drop in births in the month of December – nine months after the pandemic began – experts say the 2020 decline is part of a larger, ongoing downturn in birth rates.
The national birth rate has been falling since 2007 when it hit a peak at 4.3 million. In 2019, the provisional number of births in the US was 3.7 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Phillip Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley University and the author of a Brookings report predicting the pandemic could result in 300,000 fewer births in 2021, told Insider in January that experts aren’t quite sure why fertility rates have continued to fall in subsequent years.
Levine said earlier drops in the nation’s birth rates are often linked to the Great Recession of the late aughts.
According to CBS News, the country has already fallen below the “replacement level” in some measures, indicating there will be fewer young people to support the nation’s increasingly older population.
“We need to have enough working-age people to carry the load of these seniors, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their entitlements, and they’re gonna live out another 30 years,” University of Southern California Professor Dowell Myers, who studies demographic trends told the outlet. “Nobody in the history of the globe has had so many older people to deal with.”
But the adversity that Ocasio-Cortez listed may just compound if the birth rate declines – the fall could also lead to more hardships for those generations.
Levine told Insider that a smaller population equates to a smaller economy. Fewer workers in the labor force would also impact social security, which is financed through tax contributions of current employees.
Myers told CBS he never expected to see falling global birth rates in his life, but told the outlet he agrees with Ocasio-Cortez’s determination of the decline’s cause.
“The cost of housing, the cost of education, all these things have become more and more difficult,” Dowell told the news station. “I think the boomers themselves don’t realize how much harder it is for millennials today…it really is a lot harder for young people today.”