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I knew something was wrong with the U.S. when my closest college friends a year ago suggested only half jokingly that permits should be required to give birth. They were sick of subsidizing people to have babies who will only be a drain on resources, they said.
One said she supported a one child per family rule. She and her husband chose not to have children to lighten the burden on a crowded earth, she said. I was pregnant with my third child at the time and another friend had her third sleeping in another room, so the conversation was uncomfortable.
I felt, in fact, as if I was representing a mining company exploiting the Amazon at a Natural Resources Defense Council conference. But I pressed the matter because I could not comprehend how a group of educated women would consider adopting the policy of China, where millions of girls have been aborted, abandoned and murdered because of the law.
It was late, and we did not finish the discussion. But it turns out the U.S. faces a birth crisis, just not the one vexing my friends. American birth rates are plummeting. Pew Research Center late last year released data showing that births in 2011 were at the lowest level recorded, dropping 8 percent overall from 2007 to 2010. Births to immigrant women dropped 14 percent during the same time period and 23 percent for Mexican immigrant women, meaning the people most responsible for increasing U.S. population are no longer making up for American-born women’s declining fertility.
Long story short, U.S. women are not having enough children to replace the population and the country is on the path to shrinking in generations to come.