No, baby! Millennial birth rate is down and that could mean trouble

The nation’s birth rate fell by 2 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to provisional data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was the third annual decline in a year and reflected the country’s lowest birth rate in 30 years.

The declining birth rate reflects several trends outlined in our newest Bias Busters guide, a double issue, the covers both Millennials and Generation X. The Millennials half notes later ages for marriage, later pregnancies and smaller families. Multiply this across a large generation of 73 million people in the age at which families are started and you see the problem. The last time the birth rate was so low, 1987, it was mostly the smaller Generation X.

The birth rate for women in their 20s in particular, according to the report, fell 4 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the CDC report.

Why should we care?

A MarketWatch article forecasts a ripple effect through the economy with slumps in demand for consumer goods and housing, and fewer people paying taxes and into the already worrisome Social Security system. MarketWatch reports, “University of Notre Dame researchers said conceptions dropped ahead of the last three recessions, starting with the recessions of the early 1990s, the early 2000s and the Great Recession from 2008 to 2009.”

Why is this happening?

Before anyone starts blaming Millennials for messing up the economy, consider the economy they were born into. Here are two telling excerpts from the Money section of “100 Questions and Answers About Millennials,” also published this month:

* The 2007-2009 Great Recession and the years after hit millions of Millennials at a critical time in their financial lives. It hurt more than just their income. It caused debt and delayed home ownership, which limited wealth accumulation. A 2018 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said some Millennials might never recover. People in their late 20s to early 30s continued to lose ground after the Great Recession, from 2010 to 2016. As other generations recovered, the wealth gap between young and old grew. According to the St. Louis study “A Lost Generation,” the net worth of families headed by early Millennials was 34 percent below what had been expected.

* Wages for a household headed by a Millennial male in 2014 were more than 10 percent less in real dollars than for a Boomer household in the comparable year of 1978.

* The Fed report said the average real net worth of Millennial households in 2016 was 20 percent less than Baby Boomers had in the comparable year of 1989. Millennials were 40 percent behind where Gen X households had been in 2001. The gap was caused by lower earnings and higher education costs.

100 Questions and Answers About Gen X and 100 Questions About Millennials” is available in one double guide from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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