GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger could lose his seat in redistricting process but says he won’t ‘rule out’ a Senate or governor run: ‘I’m not too freaked out’

Adam Kinzinger
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger could lose his House seat in the redistricting process, Politico reported.
  • Illinois Democrats are planning to remove his district, sources told Politico.
  • Kinzinger said he’s not “overthinking” it and left open the options of a Senate or governor run.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger is likely to lose his House seat after Illinois Democrats redraw the state map for the post-2020 redistricting cycle, according to a Politico report on Wednesday.

Kinzinger, who rose to prominence in the Trump era as a vocal critic of the former president, has represented Illinois’ 16th Congressional District, which covers the exurbs of Chicago, since 2013.

Democratic state lawmakers, who are in control of Illinois’ redistricting map, are planning to remove Kinzinger’s seat, sources familiar with the process told Politico. If that happens, Kinzinger may have to run for another office in the blue-leaning state should he choose to remain an elected official next year.

Kinzinger told Politico that he “certainly wouldn’t rule out Senate or governor and anything else.”

“Maybe, who knows?” he said.

Yet the congressional Republican added that staying in office is not “necessary” because, “I still have a passion for what I’m doing and so I’d still fight hard for what I believe.”

Kinzinger said he knows his seat may get axed and is not “overthinking” it.

“If I lose my district, we’ll take a look then,” he told Politico. “But I’m not too freaked out.”

Redistricting is a legal process that happens every 10 years. It requires state legislatures to redraw their congressional maps based on new census data. States are still readying the release of their new district lines as the coronavirus pandemic substantially delayed census counting in 2020.

Due to a declining population in the 2020 census, Illinois is expected to lose one House seat.

Republicans hold an advantage in the redistricting process after their success in state elections. They control more maps than Democrats, putting them in a strong position to win back the House majority in the 2022 midterms.

Illinois, however, is one of the states fully controlled by Democrats for redistricting. State Democratic lawmakers claim that potentially dropping Kinzinger’s district is based on geographical considerations, Politico reported.

“If the Democrats think that they’re just going to draw him out and that’ll be the end of Kinzinger, I think they might want to take a second look,” former Republican Rep. Bob Dold of Illinois told Politico. “The Democrats, if they were smart, would leave that district alone.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

This map shows the fastest growing and shrinking cities in America over the last decade

Golf carts parked along a main street in The Villages.
The Villages, FL was the fastest-growing metro area in the US over the last decade.

  • The Census Bureau released its first detailed data from the 2020 Census count on Thursday.
  • Most of the country’s 384 metropolitan areas added population between 2010 and 2020.
  • The Villages, Florida, was the fastest-growing metro area, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was the fastest-shrinking.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most of America’s metro areas grew over the last decade, with especially big gains in southern and western cities.

The US Census Bureau released the first detailed results from the 2020 Census count on Thursday that give states the tools they need to begin the contentious process of drawing new congressional districts.

Those results also show how the United States’ cities grew or shrank over the last decade. Out of the country’s 384 metropolitan areas, 312 had population growth between 2010 and 2020, according to the new results. Several cities in the South and West saw especially strong growth, continuing a decades-long trend of Americans migrating to the Sunbelt.

Six of the ten fastest-growing metros over the decade were in the South, with three in the Mountain West. Bend, Oregon, rounded out the list. The fastest-growing metro was The Villages, Florida, a Republican-leaning retirement community.

Several Appalachian and Midwestern metros fared more poorly over the decade. Half of the ten fastest-shrinking metros in the country were wholly or partially in West Virginia.

The Census results showed that the US population became more diverse over the decade, with a decline in the number of Americans identifying as non-Hispanic white and no other race, the only racial or ethnic group that saw a decline. The number of Americans identifying as two or more races increased a whopping 275% over the decade, illustrating rapid changes in how people view their heritage.

While most of the country’s metro areas saw population growth between 2010 and 2020, rural areas tended to see big population declines. A map released by the Census Bureau as part of the overall package shows wide swaths of counties across middle America shrinking over the decade.

The changes in the population reported by the Census will determine the balance of political power in the next decade, as they inform state legislatures in the process of drawing new congressional districts that will last through the 2030 elections. They also give us the most accurate possible snapshot of the changing American population.

Read the original article on Business Insider

People can’t get enough of NYC, even during a pandemic

new york city dining out
People still want to live in New York City for its vibrancy.

  • NYC‘s population grew by 8% in the past decade, according to new Census data.
  • It’s more evidence of the city’s comeback, after being written off as slumping during the pandemic.
  • Many residents have already returned, and real estate is also rebounding.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This just in: more proof that the 2020 narrative of a fading New York City was completely wrong.

NYC saw its population grow by 8% in the past decade, according to Census Bureau data released earlier this week. That’s equivalent to more than 629,000 people for a population of 8.8 million.

It’s positive news for a city whose obituary was written countless times last year. Formerly the US epicenter of the pandemic during the first coronavirus wave last spring, NYC watched many of its young professional transplants head back to their parents’ homes and its wealthy residents flee upstate or down south for more space. The urban flight fueled the story of a city that had lost its luster.

City officials have partially attributed the population increase to getting a better census count after the New York’s Department of City planning added 265,000 housing units that were missing from the Bureau’s list. But it’s still the latest evidence that the NYC mass exodus wasn’t quite so massive as it was made out to be.

Data from USPS released earlier found that more Manhattanites moved to Brooklyn than anywhere else between March 2020 and February 2021 – 20,000 of them, compared with 19,000 Manhattanites who moved to Florida, only 10,000 of whom plan to stay permanently.

While the number of outward migrants from the NYC metro area ticked up from 2019 to 2020 – a loss of 6.6 per 1,000 residents grew to 10.9 – those who left for the suburbs were already returning in spring, Mansion Global reported. People began their return to NYC in the third quarter of 2020, location data from Unacast found. In January and February, it said, migration to the city was growing twice as fast as it did in 2019.

The city’s real estate market, which once plummeted, has since begun to rebound. New Yorkers are upgrading to wealthier neighborhoods and fancier apartments, while there’s evidence that overseas buyers are starting to drive sales again, as are young professionals looking to buy for the first time. The number of sales in Manhattan increased by 28.7% from the last three months of 2020 to the first three of 2021, according to a Douglas Elliman report.

A Bank of America Research note from May predicted that economic reopening would further spark a domino-like return to the city, ultimately proving the mass exodus narrative more myth than reality. It noted that NYC remained a premier city for “young renters given their status as economic, financial, and cultural centers, and the pullback in rents over the past year helps affordability.”

Now, not everyone has stuck around. The same USPS data found many did move for good. But those who didn’t stay in the metro area still remained close by in the Northeast, heading out east to Long Island or as far as Philadelphia. Within traveling distance to the city, it’s likely they’ll continue to boost NYC’s economy, but through spending as visitors rather than as residents.

But Stephan D. Whitaker, an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said that while migration did increase in many urban neighborhoods, it hasn’t been to the extent that it would fit the definition of an exodus.

As Kenneth Horn, the founder of Alchemy Properties, told Mansion Global, “Whoever wrote off New York was wrong.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The fastest growing metro area in the US is a Republican-leaning retirement community in Florida

Residents dance in the square of The Villages retirement community in 2016.
Residents dance in the square of The Villages retirement community in 2016.

  • The Florida Villages – a massive retirement community – was the fastest growing metro area in the US.
  • The city is largely made up of white, Republican retirees, despite America overall becoming more diverse.
  • The growth in The Villages could signify a rising prominence in living outside of big cities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The 2020 census data released Thursday showed a more diverse, less-rural America. But the fastest growing metro area broke from that trend.

The US census reflected how America has changed in the past ten years. America’s white population dropped 8.6%, rural populations declined, and the multiracial population increased significantly by 276%. But even as America’s diversity has increased, a Republican, largely-white retirement community proved to be the fastest-growing metro area: The Villages, Florida.

According to the census data, the population of The Villages – which requires at least one member of the household to be 55 or older – grew 39%, from 93,000 in 2010 to 130,000 in 2020. And in just one year, from 2019 to 2020, 5,000 new residents joined the retirement community.

The massive growth of the retirement community illustrates a broader trend of many Americans leaving the biggest cities.

Insider’s Ben Winck previously reported on why so many people are moving to “exurbs,” or districts outside of a city. Exurbs offer cheaper housing than urban areas and suburbs, for one, and are much less dense than cities while still being close enough to cities for commutes.

While The Villages is a metro area, smaller cities like it could see even more growth in coming years.

The surge to The Villages, though, has pushed median home prices there up 18.8% year over year in July, according to Redfin.

The Villages has also played an important role in the nation’s politics. As CNN reported, it has become a battleground area in recent elections, favoring President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden by 33,420 votes, with Biden only receiving 36.7% of the residents’ votes.

But The Village’s role in politics isn’t its only distinguishing factor. Insider’s Taylor Borden reported on the unique makeup of the fastest growing metro area in June, describing it as a place where residents get around by golf cart, party in piazzas, and tan by the poolside.

“This is nirvana,” one resident said in a 2021 documentary about the community.

The golf carts have also made headlines for less-positive reasons. In 2020, a Trump-supporting resident shouted “white power” while driving his golf cart during a rally to support Trump, after which the former president called the participants of the rally “great people.”

With the rate The Villages grew in the past decade, retirement to exurbs and smaller metros could be a growing trend in years to come.

Read the original article on Business Insider

US population could shrink for first time on record as immigration enforcement and COVID-19 deaths take their toll

empty times square nyc coronavirus
Cyclists ride through a nearly empty Times Square in Manhattan on March 31, 2020.

The population of the United States could shrink for the first time on record due to a combination of COVID-19 deaths, low birth rates, and immigration restrictions, experts told The Wall Street Journal.

Early estimates from demographers show that the US population grew by just 0.35% in the year that ended on July 1, 2021.

Demographers told The Wall Street Journal that they estimate grown could remain nearly flat for this upcoming year as well, or could even shrink for the first the first time.

The US population growth rate has been decreasing since the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Journal reported. Slowing population growth or even a decline could affect the US labor market and may cause the nation’s economy to suffer.

A ‘baby bust’

American women have put off having kids during the pandemic, leading to a “baby bust.” The US birth rate fell by 4% in 2020, the sharpest decline in nearly 50 years, per CDC data from May. It’s intensified a pre-pandemic trend of decreasing birth rates and fertility rates as women delayed childbearing until a later age.

The baby bust is due to a combination of factors, including a rise in individualism and autonomy for women, macroeconomic forces that millennials have had to contend with, and a recession, which typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates.

While demographers are currently debating whether the current drop will prove to be a temporary or permanent phenomenon, a recent Brookings report forecasts that the birth rate is unlikely to bounce back.

It’s sparked worries that the US may be headed for what’s known as a “demographic time bomb,” in which an aging population isn’t replaced by enough young workers.

This could slow the economy in the long term by creating higher government costs and a smaller workforce, who will have to front the care costs for aging populations. It could also create a shortage of pension and social security-type funds and impact things like school enrollment and college demand.

Japan is a famous example of just such a time bomb, long ticking demographically. Experts in that country are now worried that a pandemic-fueled baby bust could worsen the country’s aging crisis that strains the working population. Like Japan, Italy is facing an aging population and dropping fertility rates, to the point where the government has begun issuing fertility ads.

High levels of immigration have so far kept the US from seeing the same economic impact that has hit these other countries, but current immigration restrictions could pose a threat to this.

But Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, previously told Insider that a decline in births isn’t necessarily bad – it will just require structural adjustments, like creating new public policies that respond to changes in population size.

In some ways, fewer classmates for those born in 2021 could be good, she added. “If there are fewer people competing for jobs when they hit the job market, that’s not bad from their perspective, but it does require us to make adjustments.”

But although a declining birth rate will mark an economic shift, it doesn’t have to mean devastation for the economy if we respond to it with proper measures.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Economic uncertainty and expanding opportunities for women have lowered the US birth rate – and it could lead to future labor shortages

couple on couple looking at phone reading newspaper
Economists estimate that a family will spend on average $233,610 per child before they are 18 years old.

  • From 1950 to 2021, we saw a 50% decline in US birth rates, from 25 births per 1,000 people to 12.
  • Sociologist Ann Oberhauser says the decline is tied to progress in areas like reproductive medicine and access to education.
  • Lower fertility rates could translate to possible future labor shortages in many sectors of the economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The decline in population growth in the US from 2010 to 2020 is part of a broader national trend linked to falling birth rates, but also immigration changes and other factors. In May of 2021 the scope of that change became clear, with a record low of 55.8 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age in 2020, a 4% drop from 2019. Other countries are facing similar slowdowns in population growth.

This shift has been underway in the US for many years.

In the early 1900s, my grandfather grew up in a family with nine children in rural Iowa. They all worked hard to maintain the farm and support the family. Some of the children left the farm to attend college, start families, and find work elsewhere. My father grew up in a city and worked as an adult to support his family as the sole income earner.

Read more: Rich people are having babies, and it’s putting pressure on the market for private nurses and luxury products

The next generation, the baby boomers, was raised during a period of economic expansion that accompanied an uptick in fertility – the average number of children born to a woman in her reproductive years. Post-boomer generations have had fewer children, contributing to a 50% decline in US birth rates between 1950 and 2021, from 25 births per 1,000 people to 12.

Economic opportunities, social norms, and changing gender roles – especially expanding education and employment options for many women – help to explain why fertility has slowed in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. That change has repercussions for trends in workforce numbers, employment, health care, housing, and education.

Explaining the decline in fertility

Each generation experiences unique circumstances that affect fertility. The overall trend in declining birth rates, however, is largely due to women’s changing roles, employment shifts, and advances in reproductive health.

After World War II, the US saw rapid change in gender roles with the expansion of women’s education and entry into the labor force. Starting with the baby boom period from 1946 to 1964, many middle- and upper-class women had increased opportunities to get an education beyond high school, which had typically been the end of women’s formal education.

In 1950, only 5.2% of women had completed four years of college or more. By 2020, this proportion rose to 38.3%.

In comparison, 7.3% of men completed at least four years of college in 1950 and 36.7% in 2020 – a smaller increase than for women.

Increases in college education and rising employment among women tend to delay motherhood. Women with higher educational levels, especially unmarried women, tend to put off childbearing until their early 30s.

In addition, medical advancements and federal regulators’ approval of the birth control pill in the 1960s expanded reproductive freedom for women.

This situation contributed to women’s becoming mothers later in their lives. For example, the median age for first-time mothers among women who were born in 1960 was 22.7 years, compared with 20.8 years for women born in 1935.

Moreover, the teen birth rate was a record low in 2019, with 16.7 births per 1,000 girls and women ages 15 to 19. Birth rates remain higher, however, among Latina and Black teens than teens who are white or Asian. In contrast, the share of women ages 40 to 44 years who have ever had children increased from 82% in 2008 to 85% in 2018. Foreign-born women tend to have higher birth rates than US-born women.

Geographic location also reveals important differences in the US birth rate. Women in New England have fewer children, partly because of higher levels of education. In contrast, women in the South and Great Plains have among the highest birth rates in the US.

Finally, economic uncertainty affects fertility trends. Economists estimate that a family will spend on average $233,610 per child before they are 18 years old. Financial upheaval during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 also contributed to declining birth rates, while the COVID-19 pandemic saw a 4% decline in fertility rates in 2020, the lowest since 1979.

A look at the future

Fewer babies and young people and a growing older population will undoubtedly affect future generations.

Several developed countries in Europe have also experienced declining fertility rates, with widespread social and economic impacts. In Italy, for instance, rapid drops in fertility have led to closing hospitals and schools. In 2019, the average Italian family had 1.2 children, part of a declining trend since the 1960s, when it was more common for families to have four children. As a result, Italy’s percentage of seniors is second only to Japan, with growing concern for future labor supplies.

In the US, lower fertility rates translate to fewer working-age people and possible labor shortages in many sectors of the economy. According to the US Census Bureau, the percentage of people age 65 and older has been growing, increasing by one-third since 2010.

Many economists and social scientists recommend a restructuring of work to support and retain the shrinking number of workers. These recommendations include more flexible work conditions, access to quality and affordable child care, immigration reform, and job security. Several of these measures would provide much-needed support for parents and particularly women in the workforce.

Second, living spaces and residential housing may also have to accommodate this growing elderly population with arrangements that include assisted living, retirement communities, and ways for people to age in place. These housing changes would help women in particular, who live longer than men.

Third, health services such as insurance, medical care, and employment will have to adjust to these demographic shifts as more resources are needed to support an older population.

Finally, declining fertility rates are a growing concern for educators and policymakers. The so-called “demographic cliff” will inevitably lead to school closings and consolidation, and declining student recruitment and enrollment in the US. One projection is that there will be 10% fewer college students in 2054 than today.

The overall decline in fertility rates has far-reaching effects on society and future generations. In the early 1900s, college education and a career were not options for women like my great-grandmother. Advances in reproductive health and women’s expanding access to education and employment have produced a demographic shift with implications for work, housing, health care, and education.

Ann M. Oberhauser, professor of sociology, Iowa State University

The Conversation
Read the original article on Business Insider

The declining American birth rate is unlikely to bounce back, new study says

baby

Today’s baby bust looks unlikely to turn into a delayed baby boom.

That’s according to the latest research from Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip Levine at the Brookings Institution, who say that births in the US are unlikely to rebound. The research comes on the heels of a recent CDC report that found the US birth rate fell by 4%, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979.

The total fertility rate – or the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime – also fell from 2.12 in 2007 to 1.64 in 2020, below the 2.1 replacement fertility rate needed for the population to naturally replace itself.

Declining birth rates during an economic downturn are typical. But the recession of 2020 was paired with a global health crisis, which could yield a stronger impact. Demographers are currently debating whether the current drop will prove to be a temporary or permanent phenomenon: Will women will end up having babies at a later date or have fewer babies overall?

Brookings’ analysis implies the latter, that US fertility rates will be below replacement levels for the forseeable future. Considering that women who were born in 1975 to 1980 had an average of around 2.2 total lifetime births, Brookings took a look at expected lifetime births for more recent age cohorts.

It forecasted the total number of children ever born based on simulated age profiles of women in the 1985 to 2000 birth cohort under conservative, moderate, and aggressive scenarios. For each cohort, the total number of children ever born per woman continues to further fall. The forecasted fertility rate for the 2000 cohort is 1.44 conservatively, 1.77 moderately, and 1.92 aggressively, all well below the replacement fertility rate.

That is all to say, women are expected to have fewer babies going forward.

A decline in births could reshape the economy

This trend isn’t just another fallout from the pandemic, according to Brookings. It follows a decade of declining births for multiple cohorts of women as they wait to have babies until a later age. The simulated fertility rates, Kearney and Levine wrote, are similar to those in high-income countries.

Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, recently told Insider that the US has been slow to fall in line with worldwide birth trends. “It’s about women having access to education and employment opportunities,” she said. “It’s about the rise in individualism. It’s about the rise in women’s autonomy and a change in values.”

Macroeconomic forces are another major factor in the decision to postpone having kids, a reflection of how expensive the US economy has become. Millennials have grappled with the lingering effects of the Great Recession and soaring living costs for things like housing and, of course, childcare.

If Brookings’ analysis proves to be true, experts are worried the US is entering a demographic crisis that would result in an economy with an aging population that isn’t replaced by enough young workers. It could yield higher government costs and a smaller workforce that would have to front the care costs for aging populations, creating a shortage of pension and social security-type funds.

Read more: The declining American birth rate could actually be good for the economy

But Mauro GuillĂ©n, Wharton professor and author of “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future” told Insider in April that the decline in births is a “temporary blip,” likely to last one to two years.

“Young couples have said, ‘Give me a rain check, I don’t want the baby now because there’s too much uncertainty,'” he said. “But they will have those babies later. They don’t cancel their plans to have babies for life.”

Regardless of what happens, a declining birth rate doesn’t have to mean devastation for the economy. It will undoubtedly be an economic shift, but such change isn’t necessarily bad. It just requires structural adjustments, like creating new policies that accommodate to changes in population in size, and for people to welcome a reshaped economy with open arms.

Read the original article on Business Insider

China is now letting couples have up to 3 children, a huge turnaround from its family-planning restrictions from the ’80s

Baby and mother
Mother and child.

Hello! This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email publication read by 2.5 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

On Monday, China’s government said that couples will be able to have a third child, a decision meant to spark more babies in a country where population growth has hit a wall.

The backstory: Family planning restrictions have existed in China since 1980, when the government instituted a one-child-per-household policy out of fear it wouldn’t have the resources to provide for a swelling population. China relaxed that cap to two children in 2015 but, following the pandemic’s baby bust, it’s realizing it needs to confront this problem more urgently.

  • There were 12 million births in China in 2020, down 18% annually and the fourth straight year of declines.
  • Demographers expect the country’s population, currently at 1.4 billion, to peak by 2025.

Why it matters: Declining population growth has profound implications for a country’s economic success. Fewer babies = fewer future workers. And it could upend existing systems of support for the elderly, because younger workers’ taxes subsidize public services for retirees.

This isn’t just a China problem

A “demographic time bomb” alarm is being sounded in dozens of countries.

  • South Korea’s rate of births per woman fell to 0.84 last year, the lowest in the world. For reference, the “replacement” rate that would keep a population stable is about 2.1.
  • The US population grew at its slowest rate since the Great Depression from 2010-2020, and its birth rate declined for the sixth straight year last year.
  • Germany doesn’t have enough people to fill its cities. It’s taken down 330,000 housing units since 2002.

Zoom out: While many parts of the world face stagnant population growth, others are making up for it. Africa’s population is set to double by 2050, helping the world grow from 7.8 billion people today to 11 billion by 2100.

Bottom line: As much as the Chinese government wants to grow the country’s share of the world population, it might be fighting a losing battle. The two-child policy didn’t lead to more babies, and critics say the three-child rule won’t move the needle, either.

This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, a daily email publication. Sign up here to get it!

Read the original article on Business Insider

The declining American birth rate could actually be good for the economy

birth rate us
The birth rate dropped during the pandemic, as is typical during economic recessions.

  • New CDC data found the US birth rate fell by 4% in 2020, the sharpest decline in nearly 50 years.
  • Experts are worried this is a crisis, but it’s not necessarily bad news.
  • It’s a sign of progress for women and could also be part of a reshaped, better economy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped a new report that revealed the US birth rate fell by 4%, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979.

The news seemingly sent America – and American media – into shock. One demographer deemed the trend a “crisis” in an interview with CBS, while The New York Times explored how the pandemic may be fast-forwarding American decline, and another demographer told CNN the baby bust could have the opposite effect of the 1950s baby boom.

I wrote about the baby bust a few weeks prior to the latest data, tracing the pandemic’s influence on the decision to have kids and how it could either slow down the economy in the long term or result in a delayed baby boom.

But here’s the thing: A declining birth rate isn’t necessarily bad news. It’s both the continuation of a decades-long trend and a symbol of progress in gender equity. And while it signals some economic distress, it may also represent the start of a solution to America’s affordability problem.

The big question is whether women will end up having babies at a later date or will have fewer babies overall. It’s too soon to tell.

Fewer babies doesn’t have to mean devastation for the US economy, depending on Biden’s success in boosting worker productivity with his infrastructure plans and how the economy continues to reopen. But it does mean change, and maybe the cries of despair over the declining birth rate are more about resistance to the unknown than looking forward to a reshaped America with differently shaped families. The declining birth rate is a step into the great unknown, and that could be exciting.

A sign of progress

American birth rates have been declining for six years as millennial women have been waiting to have babies until a later age. Birth rates among teens, which have fallen nearly every year for the past three decades, were down by 8% last year.

This is normal, if you look at worldwide trends.

Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University, told me last month that there’s been a broader shift among high-income countries and some middle-income countries for women to postpone having kids until later ages. The US, she said, was a little slower to see that increase.

Look no further than the declining fertility rate, or the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime. It tracks closely with birth rates and since 1950, the worldwide fertility rate has dropped from an average of 4.7 children to 2.4 children.

It all signals economic progress. “It’s about women having access to education and employment opportunities,” Percheski said. “It’s about the rise in individualism. It’s about the rise in women’s autonomy and a change in values.”

baby mask covid19
A declining birth rate is partly due to a rise in women’s autonomy.

Women, she continued, are choosing to stay in school longer and waiting until later to marry. The Pew Research Center found that the more educated a woman, the more likely she was to postpone having a child until her 30s. This stat can be partly explained by the fact that women today find themselves with more life options than women 50 years ago (it could also indicate that educated women are financially burdened, but we’ll get to that soon).

Clare Mehta, an associate professor of psychology at Emmanuel College who studies established adults, previously told Insider that millennials are finding fulfillment in building a professional life for themselves because of new opportunities previous generations didn’t have. “Women want to have careers now before they settle down, people want to feel as though they’re financially secure,” Mehta said. “That wasn’t happening in the past.”

It’s part of how millennials are redefining adulthood. While many people have described the generation as “behind” due to their myriad economic woes, they’re really just creating a new normal.

A turning point for the economy

Now, while the rise in women’s autonomy has helped birth rates climb for women in their later 30s and in their 40s in recent years (amid the overall declining birth rate), they declined for this cohort during 2020. This might spark some concern over just how severe the effects of the pandemic are.

Declining birth rates during an economic downturn also aren’t abnormal. Recessions typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates. “People tend to wait during periods of political and social unrest,” Percheski said.

The Great Recession saw a 9% decline in births, per Brookings, about 400,000 babies fewer than there would have been otherwise. And while the Spanish Flu only resulted in an economic contraction instead of a recession, that public health crisis also led to a drop in births. That the pandemic combines both health and economic crisis could have a greater impact on birth rates.

But recession or no recession, underlying macroeconomic factors are influencing the birth rate. Millennials have long been facing an affordability crisis, plagued by the lingering effects of the Great Recession and soaring living costs for things like housing, healthcare, and, of course, childcare.

Looking back at the stat that more educated women are more likely to have kids at a later age in this context points to a new perspective: Education often comes with student debt. Women may be waiting to have kids not out of choice, but out of a desire to get their financial footing and pay off student debt first.

A declining birth rate therefore also reflects how expensive the US economy has become. It’s not the drop in births that’s distressing, but the affordability problem that it signifies. If we look closely at these issues, the birth rate could serve as a turning point for a better economy.

Not an economic decline, but an economic change

Experts are worried today’s baby bust will result in an economy plagued by an aging population that isn’t replaced by enough young workers. That might result in higher government costs and a smaller workforce that would have to front the care costs for aging populations, creating a shortage of pension and social security-type funds.

But what if it doesn’t?

Percheski said the country will likely need to make structural adjustments like creating new policies that accommodate to changes in population in size.

Percheski has company in the form of President Joe Biden. His American Families Plan proposes investments of $1.7 trillion in the care economy, with a focus on support for families including an expanded child tax credit and universal pre-K. It’s an ambitious proposal that, combined with a large infrastructure investment via the $1.7 trillion American Jobs Plan, seeks to boost the productivity of American workers in a 21st-century context.

Less births and less workers may not spell economic disaster if these plans – or others like them – can boost American workers’ productivity. I’ve already written about evidence that productivity has increased during the pandemic, while reopening has brought a wage boost for most workers. Inflation comes with these trends, but a more productive worker could essentially pay for that inflation, as well as paying for a prosperous society with less babies in it.

millennialskids_ Alexi Rosenfeld
Fewer births could be the way of the future.

By examining some of the factors contributing to the decline in births, we can start with preventative adjustments now. Work structure in America – like expensive childcare and lack of paid parental leave – is a big deterrent to having kids.

That’s only the beginning of a few issues that could be addressed: expensive healthcare (or lack thereof), climate change, and debt are other hindrances to having kids. For many millennials, the latter comes in the form of student loans. While Biden’s Education Department has canceled billions in student debt, trillions remain outstanding. Borrowers and politicians alike have been arguing for more student-debt relief.

The exact impact this would have on births is unknown, but society needs these improvements anyway. If we do get to the point of having to make population-based changes 20 or 30 years from now, it doesn’t have to mean the economy is going downhill, but rather in a new direction.

Maybe the declining birth rate is not a problem, but a way of telling America it’s time to start a new chapter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

This map shows which US counties had more births than deaths over a year

  • The Census Bureau recently published 2020 population estimates for US counties.
  • We looked at natural population changes within the US, or the difference between births and deaths.
  • The above map shows which counties saw more births than deaths and vice versa from 2019 to 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Recently released data from the Census Bureau shows which places in the United States had more births or more deaths between 2019 and 2020.

Last week’s release of county-level data included 2020 population estimates, net domestic migration estimates, and net international migration estimates. This new dataset also included the natural population change from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, or the difference between births and deaths in a county during that time. This means the data covers part of last year when COVID-19 started to spread throughout the US.

Provisional National Vital Statistics System data reported by the Centers for Disease Control showed COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US last year. Heart disease was the leading cause, followed by cancer.

Using the new Census data that shows births, deaths, and natural increase data for 3,143 county and county-equivalents, Insider looked at what natural population changes looked like across the nation from 2019 to 2020.

The places in red in the above map are where there were more deaths than births per 1,000 residents from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, while blue counties indicate that there were more births than deaths per 1,000 residents in those places. Insider adjusted the natural increases and decreases by each county’s 2019 population.

Based on the map, more counties in the Northeast experienced natural decreases in a year, or more deaths than births, than counties that saw natural increases in this region of the US. This was also the case in the South. For instance, every county in West Virginia, with the exception of two counties, saw more deaths than births.

There were more births than deaths in many counties that make up the Western region of the US. For instance, every county in Utah, except Daggett County, saw a natural increase from 2019 to 2020.

The following table shows the 10 counties that saw the largest natural increases per 1,000 residents among counties with at least 10,000 residents in 2019:

Although Harris County, Texas, had the largest natural increase at 35,172, Madison County in Idaho had the largest natural increase when adjusting by 2019 population estimates. This county had a natural increase of 981 people, or an increase of 24.40 per 1,000 residents.

We can also look at the places that saw more deaths than births in just a year among counties with large populations. The following table shows the 10 counties that saw the largest natural decreases per 1,000 residents among counties with at least 10,000 residents in 2019:

Although Pinellas County, Florida, had the largest natural decrease at -5,893, Sumter County in Florida, had the largest natural decrease when adjusting by 2019 population estimates. This county had a natural decrease of 1,800 people, or a decrease of 13.46 per 1,000 residents.

It is important to note that the estimates released on May 4 are not the 2020 decennial census results.

“These estimates are based on the 2010 Census and were created without incorporation or consideration of the 2020 Census results,” the Census Bureau wrote about the population estimates. “They are typically used in comparisons with the 2020 Census to make determinations about the accuracy of the estimates.”

Read the original article on Business Insider