How America’s declining birth rate could affect our political future

Women are having less babies in the United States. For the past several years, the birthrate has been declining and it’s finally reached the point where we aren’t having enough children to maintain the replacement rate.

Several factors play into this: women are having children later in life, infertility is on the rise and many are choosing not to have babies at all. A 2016 study found that women ages 30 – 34 have the highest birthrate and since 2003, women ages 35 – 39 have maintained a higher birthrate than teens.

Rising cost of childcare also affects couples’ decisions to have children – even in states where it’s affordable to live, daycare is incredibly expensive and the more you have, the more those costs go up. Simpy put: both parents usually have to work outside the home to make ends meet and having multiple children in daycare eats away at income.

What’s interesting about America’s declining birth rate though, is how it could potential affect our political future. Bethany Mandel writes:

States across the Midwest and Southeast fare better than those in the Northeast and on the West Coast. South Dakota’s rate, the nation’s highest, was a full 57 percent higher than the District of Columbia’s, which was the lowest.

Women in more rural areas, it seems, are simply having more kids; urban women are falling behind. The correlations between “red” states and higher fertility rates and between “blue” states with lower rates is unmistakable for anyone familiar with the electoral map. The question is why.

CNBC story about the Times’ data offers a clue. It breaks down the cost of day care by state. The most expensive place for care? You guessed it: Washington, DC — the least fertile place in the country. By contrast, the most fertile state, South Dakota, is among the three cheapest states to get care for your child.

She also notes that conservative values encourage larger families as well as policies like lower tax rates and fewer government regulations help larger families grow.

The highest-fertility states — the Dakotas, Nebraska, Utah and Idaho — boast strong religious communities, which encourage larger families and advocate for the infrastructure necessary to support them. With healthy economies, lower costs of living and a robust support system, families in these states have the resources to grow and keep up our country’s demographics.

So while liberal feminists are encouraging women not to pursue motherhood, conservatives are continuing to grow their families. Voting trends currently reflect a more liberal mindset among the millennial generation, but if they don’t reproduce, they’re less likely to pass on their views to a new generation, ultimately paving the way for a redder America sometime down the road.

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