WXYZ-TV: Matthew Roling on implications of U.S. birth rate decline
Parents have a lot to juggle even in good times, throw in a pandemic and it takes a toll. While the birth rate in the U.S. has been on a steady decline, in 2020, that rate dropped significantly with 4 percent fewer births than 2019, a record low for the U.S. Despite talk of a possible COVID-19 “baby boom," when you compare December 2019 to December 2020, 9 months after the pandemic began, births declined by about 8 percent. So the birth rate decline is a multi-layered issue with big potential economic impact. "If you have fewer people having fewer children, your labor market starts to shrink," said Matthew Roling, an economist at Wayne State University. "That places a huge obligation today to support the retirement, pension and health care of the people who are trying to retire tomorrow." To forecast our future, he points to Japan, a country with a birth rate declining faster than the United States. As a result, Japan’s population declined 1 percent in a 5 year span. "That might not seem like a big number, but if the United States lost 1 percent of its population, that would be almost 4 million people, the would be the equivalent of Philadelphia and Phoenix going away," said Roling.