FeatureJuly/August 2024

On Fertility: The story of a baby bust

On Fertility: The story of a baby bust

By Sam Gutterman

FERTILITY HAS FALLEN OFF A CLIFF IN MANY COUNTRIES, with some currently at all-time lows. Few countries are seeing a rebound. This article intends to investigate key reasons for this seismic demographic event, explore some of the possibilities ahead of us, and postulate several of its implications.

Before we discuss some of these important issues, we need to lay out the metrics and terms used in discussions about fertility. The most commonly used measure of fertility is the total fertility rate (TFR), the number of children a woman has over her lifetime, assuming she does not die through her childbearing ages. In contrast to a period study in which fertility for a given population is measured during a selected period, usually a year, a cohort study follows fertility patterns of a selected group (cohort) of women born in the same period, usually the same year, followed over their lifetimes. The age-specific fertility rate is the percentage of children that a woman has at a specific age.

Analysis of fertility mainly focuses on two of its aspects:

  • quantum aspects, the number of children per woman, is usually measured by the TFR; and
  • tempo effects, reflecting the timing of births measured by age-specific fertility rates. Tempo needs to be considered when period TFRs are being assessed, as the lifecycle of fertility has continued to be delayed, so that marriage/partnership and giving birth have also been delayed.

The replacement rate is that TFR for which births will be offset by corresponding deaths. This is commonly stated as being 2.1 children per woman. However, it depends on the mortality rate of the population. For high-income populations, it is slightly below 2.1, while in low-income countries with high mortality, it may be up to 2.4. Globally, the replacement rate is somewhere around 2.3—we are about at that level globally now.

Diminished fertility has been with us for quite a while in the United States. Figure 1 demonstrates the effects of the post-World War II baby boom through the early 1960s. A sharp decline occurred shortly thereafter, with relative stability since, averaging around a 1.9 TFR over the past 50 years, which is the current Social Security projection for 1940 and later years. However, the period TFR has been below 1.90 since 2011. Figure 2 displays trends of fertility for quinquennial age groups, with the age-specific rates for younger ages decreasing and older ages increasing (tempo effect) for the past 40 years.

Figure 3 demonstrates significant variations between regions of the world, with one common characteristic—their slopes are all decreasing. This highly suggests that at least some of the underlying drivers of fertility are at work across these regions. Although the following focuses on the United States, discussion on global issues is inevitable and necessary for a comprehensive view of the situation.

Most countries, with exceptions primarily in Africa, are now in or have completed what has been called the demographic transition, during which a given population moves from a high-fertility / high-mortality state to a low-fertility / low-mortality state. Recently, a second demographic transition theory has been developed to help explain the continuing low or very low level of fertility. Its focus is on self-fulfillment, personal autonomy, and development, increased economic aspirations, and a “modern” lifestyle. These cultural changes represent a tension between employment and motherhood, a change in the nature and postponement of marriage/partnership and parenthood, and more out-of-wedlock births—making fewer or no children more acceptable.

Why has the downward shift occurred?
There is a wide range of reasons for the decrease in fertility, several of which are particular to certain countries or population segments. The processes and drivers involved are complex and interrelated, and include the following:

  • Cost of raising a child. Both tangible and intangible economic costs have increased to what some believe is unaffordable to many. This includes the cost of child care and education, as well as the stresses and strains of child rearing. In a Federal Reserve survey released on May 21, 2024, some households with young children reported paying nearly as much on child care as they did on housing. Because the cost of housing, either renting or buying, has increased, many couples cannot afford the space for a large family. Opportunity costs also include unpaid time off from not working.
  • Female education. The education of females, especially that of girls, is well known to be a key driver of lower fertility, especially in lower-income countries, partly because it results in a delay in getting married and giving birth (tempo). Further, educated parents tend to have fewer children (quantum), possibly because they assign greater value to the quality of their children’s education, and feel it better to invest all their resources into one “golden” child, rather than to increase the number of children.

    Women are gradually becoming more educated than men; about 60% of undergraduates in the United States are female, and women have higher college completion rates. College graduates are expected to work, if for no other reason than repayment of their student loans, if any. They develop careers and hope to advance in the workplace, and parental leave can disrupt their positive career trajectory. The average age at first birth of the college-educated has increased from about age 28 to 30 over the past few decades. However, the decline in the birth rate and increase in age at first birth have changed (the age at first birth in 2023 was 27.5 years old, while in 2001 it was 24.9 years old), independent of educational attainment. Children no longer fit into many American dreams, which value individualism, wealth, and freedom.
  • Despite this, it is not always the case. In the United States, the fertility rate of Generation-X college-educated women has increased faster than that of their less well-educated peers, driven by an increasing proportion of those with two children having a third, with a decline in childlessness being sharpest among the most educated women.[3]
  • Female labor force participation. An increasing number of women has entered the paid labor force (in the United States, 68.7% ages 20–24, 77.6% ages 25–34, and 76.3% ages 35-44). Similar to the way increased female access to education can reduce fertility rates, increased female labor force participation and career/job aspirations can also affect fertility rates. Many women, being highly educated, do not wish to spend their productive ages solely as housewives caring for their children, but rather want to pursue careers; the opportunity cost of mothers’ time plays a central role in both the quantum and tempo of fertility.
  • Contraceptives. The almost-universal availability of contraceptive devices and pills has a large role in family planning and the trajectory of fertility. Couples now have more control over the number and timing of their children, as they have access to family planning services and available technologies, including sex education, natural family planning based on women’s fertile periods, abstinence, withdrawal, contraceptives such as condoms and contraceptive pills, and long-acting reversible contraceptive devices such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants. Other fertility-reducing methods include abortion and sterilization. All in all, such methods enable women to better plan their family trajectories, meaning that many are less likely to react to external changes in financial circumstances.
  • Union formation. In many countries, the family structure has undergone a revolution. Commitment to marriage or partnership has been delayed, a prime reason the rate of teenage pregnancies has plummeted in the United States. Also, the percentage of women of childbearing age who are unmarried is growing, with their lower average fertility. According to the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth, in 2015–19 about one-half of first births occurred to women currently married (52.8%) and about one-half occurred to women who had never married (47.2%). One-half of non-marital first births occurred to women who were in a cohabiting union.
  • Urbanization. The global trend toward increased city living has put a premium on the size of affordable living units, which in turn has decreased the average size of a family. The gap between urban and rural fertility, also driven by the greater financial and opportunity costs of childrearing, is related to such factors as differences in wages, reduced need for family workers in farms, female education and job opportunities, paid labor force participation, socioeconomic mobility in industrial and service employment, and efficiency in the delivery of family planning.
  • Mortality. If a population experiences a high level of childhood mortality, parents tend to try to build in a family size margin to cover the likelihood of the deaths of one or more children. But as mortality falls, especially for infants and children, parents no longer need so many children to ensure the family’s financial survival. As a higher proportion survives, it becomes more economically appealing to have fewer children. In countries where mortality rates are already quite low, this factor may no longer have an impact on fertility rates.
  • Government policy. There have been limited but important restrictions on giving birth resulting in lower fertility rates. The most notable have been China’s one-child policy (1980–2016) and India’s sterilization campaign in 1970.
  • Migration. The fertility of immigrants will depend on their country of origin, age, sex, and family status, and whether they move as part of a family unit, for family reunification, or as individuals. Usually, after one or two generations, the fertility behavior of immigrants tends to converge to that of the native-born, as descendants of immigrants adopt the behavior and attitudes of the new society. In the United States, immigrants have been somewhat more fertile than the native-born.
  • Culture and attitudes. Cultural and religious attitudes and norms, including community and peer expectations, can be significant drivers of fertility, either higher or lower. These factors are often related to the expected role of women in the family, community, and wider society. They include norms regarding the perceived optimum or minimum number of children or even the number of wives a man may have. Mothers have traditionally spent more time in child raising than fathers, although this has gradually been changing in some countries. These factors can be difficult to change. It may take a generation or more for behaviors and institutions to settle into a stable pattern, but even longer to move them back again. Nonetheless, due to the spread of social media, cultural and behavioral aspects are becoming effectively universal and can differ from prior generations.

    With the decline to a level below a 1.9 TFR, some in the United States thought at first that women were delaying childbirth because of lingering economic uncertainty from the 2008 financial crisis. However, Kearney et al.[4] found that state-level differences in the rate of unemployment, housing and child care costs, Medicaid availability, parental abortion notification laws, contraceptive usage, religiosity, and student debt could explain almost none of the decline. Instead, they suspected that this shift reflects broad societal changes. While raising children is not much more expensive than earlier, parents’ preferences and perceived constraints have changed because preferences for spending time building a career, leisure, and relationships outside the home have come in conflict with childbearing. Better education and independence mean that many women do not feel an obligation to reproduce.

    Some ultra-religious communities have much higher fertility rates than those around them. Depending on the size of these communities, their birth outcomes can affect the overall national experience.
  • Birth expectations. An early indicator of fertility consists of expectations of family size. A series of periodic National Surveys of Family Growth (U.S.) by women and men ages 15 to 49 has shown relatively stable expectations (since 1982 it has ranged between 2.1 and 2.4 children per woman), dipping to about 2.1 children per woman in 2015–19. Note that there has generally been a gap between the number of children expected and that realized, generally varying between 0.15 and 0.25 children per woman; as the average age at first birth increases, this gap may also increase.
  • Recessions and pandemics. Sudden shocks to the social system, whether in the form of recessions or pandemics, have had limited effects on the total number of births for a cohort. In some cases, there has been an immediate reduction in fertility, followed by a corresponding increase shortly thereafter. An example was the response to the COVID-19 pandemic—although a sharp decline occurred over a quarter or two, fertility was offset shortly thereafter, with prior trends continuing after that time.
  • Teenage years. In the United States, the fertility rate of teenage girls has plummeted in recent years to the point that few teenagers are now having children. This is generally perceived to be a positive development, especially because such births can result in health problems for both child and mother, as well as decrease the mother’s expected lifetime earnings. About 60% of the U.S. reduction in overall birthrates over the past 30 years can be attributed to its reduction in teen births. Offsetting this significant plunge has been an increase in births by women in their 30s and even their 40s (a tempo effect).

The change in the role of women, the pressure to raise high-quality children, and family one-upmanship can result in a desire to pay whatever time and money it takes for one or two children. Parents with higher incomes often choose to devote more of their resources and attention to their few children.

Because this raises the cost of each child, it also leads to fewer children,[5] consistent with Gary Becker’s model of the demand for children, on which a great deal of the economic analysis of fertility has been based.

In Becker’s model, the decline in fertility rates is characterized as a shift away from the number of children toward those of higher “quality.” This is referred to as the Quantity-Quality (Q-Q) model that indicates that the quantity and quality of children are substitutable in family decision-making, with a strong negative correlation between educational attainment and fertility. However, this relationship is complex as they are both outcomes of parental decision-making influenced by the above factors. Becker claimed that, with rising income, rather than having more children, parents tend to spend more on each child to improve their quality of life, allowing for feedback loops between the economy and fertility decisions.

Population projections
Fertility is one of the three major components of all population projections, the others being mortality and immigration. While modeling fertility is almost always based on women’s ages, many other variables and factors, including consideration of those processes and drivers discussed above are usually involved in estimating fertility, are correlated with fertility, or are related to the quantum or tempo of fertility. Consequently, the selection of assumptions, variables, population segments, time periods, trends and discontinuities, and relationships, as well as the expected use of the findings, can have major impacts on the analysis and validity of the projections.

United States
Several sets of long-range projections have been developed regarding the size and composition of the U.S. population and—germane to this article—fertility. They all have ratcheted down their projections of the U.S. population and fertility over the past few decades. Here is a selected set of long-range TFRs, highlighting ultimate rates (they all start from the current level, transitioning to their ultimate expectation.

  • Social Security Trustees. Its 1.90 TFR projection will be reached by 2040. This is close to the long-term historical (past 50 years) average.
  • Congressional Budget Office.[6] The CBO’s ultimate TFR projection is 1.70, which will be reached by 2034. This is about 0.2% higher than that made in 2022 due to the expected effect of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which gave greater authority to regulate abortion to individual states, offset y expected changes to the way that people access abortion services and changes in sexual behavior and contraception use.
  • United Nations Population Division.[7] An ultimate TFR of 1.70. This ultimate TFR was developed by judgment and various numerical analysis techniques for countries in stage 3 of the demographic transition with a recent value of TFR of less than 1.70 by 2021. Five stochastically modeled fertility trajectory scenarios were developed, of which the medium variant is the most commonly used scenario.
  • United States Bureau of the Census.[8] Its projected TFR of 1.52 will be reached by 2123, which reflects the white native-born TFR in 2020.
  • Global Burden of Disease.[9] Its projection of 1.52 will be reached in 2050 and 1.45 by 2100. The use of birth cohort by location, based on an average of three logit models that reflect three, four, or five of the following variables: female educational attainment by ages 25-29, met needs for contraceptives at ages 25-29, under-age-5 mortality, and concentration of urban population.

The projections that consist of a lower rate of fertility indicate that there will be a peak in population reached later this century, decreasing thereafter. The highest forecasted fertility indicates a population that continues to increase for the rest of this century, primarily because of its forecasted amount of net immigration.

Three so-called population pyramids are given in Figure 4, for 1973, 2023, and 2073 based on the United Nations’ estimates and projections. The 1973 population pyramid has a large bulge in the teenage years representing the post-World War II baby boom. The other two do not look much like pyramids, as the effect of lower fertility and mortality decimates the lower part and contributes to the shape of the population representation.

Over the past two decades, global projections have also ratcheted downward, reflecting ever-continuing reductions in expected fertility and increased population aging. The two largest countries in the world, India and China, have recently experienced significantly reduced fertility rates, less than 2.0 children per woman and about 1.0 per woman, respectively. It should be noted that few countries, if any, are expected to reach a TFR of 0.7, the current rate experienced by South Korean women, the lowest in the world. The United Nations has projected that by 2050, the populations of 61 countries or areas will decrease by at least 1%, largely owing to low fertility, although in some instances a high emigration rate may be the key driver.

In 2022 the United Nations projected world population estimates to peak at 10.4 billion in the 2080s, largely reflecting its view of a reduced global rate of fertility. In contrast, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now projects that the global population will peak at around 9.5 billion in 2061 before diminishing. 

A major difference in alternative global population projections is the expected speed of fertility decrease in many African countries with relatively high current TFRs. The U.N.’s projections indicate a tripling of the sub-Saharan African population to more than 3 billion people by 2100, while other projections have a lower peak far earlier than that. Although still relatively high, Africa’s fertility has declined recently—according to the U.N., between 2003 and 2023, for example, Nigeria’s TFR went from about 6.1 to 5.1 and Kenya’s went from 4.9 to 3.2—due to several factors, including an increase in the availability of contraceptives, girls’ education, and urbanization. Time will tell what the global peak will be and when it will be reached.

Over the short term, these global projections are reasonably similar, as they start from similar base populations and current fertility rates. They deviate substantially after the first couple of decades, especially toward the end of the century, as the effects of the underlying assumptions accumulate over time. However, recent trends suggest that almost every country will eventually collide with its demographic wall.

Knowledge about the current and future population size, TFR, age-related composition of the population, and their dependencies and financial consequences is needed for sound decision-making to address long-term issues. As presented in Figure 5, granular information by sex and quinquennial age group for the world and Africa provided through population pyramids based on the U.N.’s 2022 median variant population estimate for 2023 may prove useful for planning purposes. The African portion of the chart demonstrates what a population pyramid looks like with a young population, the base of which will contract over time.

Government interventions
Various governments have attempted to affect the fertility rate of their populations, ranging from mandates to nudges/incentives. Almost all high-income countries are at least considering increasing their pro-natal incentives. Despite these efforts, in most cases they have failed.

China’s one-child policy is an interesting case in point. It was adopted in 1980 with certain exceptions after a downward trend toward fewer children for women had already begun; it was changed to a two-child policy in 2016 (and subsequently a three-child policy) when the government did not like its demographic consequences. Since that time their large incentives to increase fertility have been unsuccessful. Its current TFR has further dropped to about 1.0 child per woman, from a level of about 1.66 between 1991 and 2017.

Reversing the declining fertility rate may require a whole-of-society paradigm shift, as at its core fertility lies beyond regulatory reach. A shrinking population cannot keep entitlement programs, let alone a robust economy, afloat. Young professionals do not decide on having children because of changes made to the tax code, especially because many of those in their childbearing years are not paying much income tax in the first place.

Stone[10] estimated that a pro-natalist policy may cost on average $200,000 or more per additional baby born. If that figure is close to being accurate, to close the gap between the current U.S. fertility level and the replacement level of fertility, such a policy would cost somewhere between $250 billion and $1 trillion in new spending per year. And with further declines in fertility, this estimated cost may be too low.

Few such policies can be implemented on a means-tested basis and it is difficult to maintain the higher fertility rate because the ensuing bump may be either temporary or even just encourage parents to have babies earlier than would have occurred later anyway; families’ views about their desired family size generally do not change.

Today, many countries have introduced ­family­-friendly policies or at least are considering them, including providing help to women in raising infants and young children through such programs as child or family allowances, free or subsidized child care and day care, early education, parental leave with job security, flexible or part-time work hours for parents, and tax credits. Such incentives have also included discounts on public services, free in-vitro fertilization treatment cycles, housing stipends, additional monthly income, and cash bonuses.

Cash payments seem to have made a small difference, especially to those with limited income, but they can be quite expensive, particularly because the payments are also given to those who would have had these children anyway. At the same time, those with higher incomes may be more concerned about their careers and social lives than with receiving relatively small cash payments.

In what may be an extreme case of intervention, Hungary has just expanded tax benefits for mothers under the age of 30—they will be exempt from paying personal income tax for life in addition to having access to existing housing and child-care subsidies and generous maternity leaves. Although Hungary’s fertility rate, though somewhat less than 1.6, has risen since 2010, the Vienna Institute of Demography attributed this increase primarily to women who delayed childbirth because of a debt crisis around 2010.

There have also been limited cases in which governments have strived to reduce fertility in fear of a Malthusian world, associated with concerns regarding possible overpopulation relative to limited resources or food supply, such as the one-child policy of China or sterilization in India or focused on a particular “unwanted” population segment, e.g., sterilization in indigenous sub-populations in North America. It is hoped that these policies will never again be implemented.

Governments are kidding themselves if they believe that their policies can make material changes in their population’s overall fertility rate. These policies can also be enormously expensive. Nevertheless, they may provide significant benefits to quality of life and reduction in childhood poverty.

Thomas Malthus (1798)[12] and, later, Paul and Anne Ehrlich (1968),[13] at the peak of the global population growth frenzy, among others, raised concerns about the escalating growth of the world population, predicting worldwide famine and doom resulting from the inability of the earth to feed and sustain the expected exploding population. More recently there has been concern regarding the overuse of fossil fuels by our ever-growing population, causing dangerous climate change.

In stark contrast, recent media attention has been given to both the current baby bust and its accompanying population aging, which will inevitably bring profound economic and social challenges. Actuaries and demographers have forecasted this aging for a long time. However, continued low fertility, even offset by immigration, brings with it other changes and has started this demographic deglaciation process sooner than some had expected.

In the short term—say, over the next 20 to 30 years—a reduction in fertility lowers a society’s child dependency burden by reducing the number of children relative to the number of working-age adults, although as indicated earlier there will likely be substitution of the cost of quality rather than quantity of children. This will occur at the same time as the old-age dependency increases, even after many of the baby boomers leave the scene.

From an actuarial perspective, a downside effect of a long period of low fertility is that 30 to 40 years later, there will be fewer workers to support the needs of more retirees and other beneficiaries of Social Security, Medicare, and social safety net programs. This will adversely affect the affordability and sustainability of these programs, as it will also risk slower growth if not a reduction in tax revenue. Consequently, problems associated with low fertility and aging will become more evident and urgent.

A related problem is the growing support burden of fewer informal (that is, unpaid) long-term social caregivers, which has often been provided by extended family (especially daughters and granddaughters), friends, and voluntary organizations. These caregiving resources will be reduced because of smaller family sizes and a longer period between generations. This trend will in turn require a substantial increase in paid caregiving for the elderly and increased societal costs for the support of those needing such care, at the same time the total workforce is decreasing. In contrast, informal child caregivers often consist of grandmothers; with increased healthy longevity, this source of caregiving may increase. As Italy and Japan have already experienced, some schools will be converted into nursing and assisted living facilities.

Leaders in countries around the world are just beginning to grapple with these foreseeable social, economic, and political effects of fertility changes and patterns. Key questions related to the workforce and elderly population include: Will there be enough younger adults to replace the retiring workforce? Will education and technology affect productivity sufficiently to offset a slowdown in the size of the future labor force? Who will pay taxes in an aging society—and how much? Who will provide health care and retirement benefits for retirees? Who will care for the elderly? How will the military maintain its size? Will people with longer lives still be able to afford to retire from work, and at what age? Who will buy the houses they try to sell as they get old? Will inequality increase or decrease? A rethink of what constitutes retirement may be needed.

The economy and social insurance programs will be at risk. There will be fewer workers and consumers. Although immigration could fill these demographic and economic needs and alleviate the negative impact of reduced fertility, many countries have experienced a resistance to immigrants—and, given the worldwide baby bust, where will the immigrants come from even if this resistance is overcome? This process can be seen through U.S. labor shortages that have arisen in the last couple of years as immigration has slowed. And that is before our TFR dipped below 1.9 for a long period—it becomes more biting when the women born since then enter their fertile years.

In a 1937 lecture, John Maynard Keynes warned that declining populations come with nasty economic side effects. A downward economic spiral could ensue over the long term, with a smaller workforce accompanied by decreased consumer demand for goods and services, weak demand for investment, retirees who tend to consume less, and a decrease in tax revenue that in turn could lead to a further decrease in economic and subsequent unemployment growth. This could make it difficult to sustain rising productivity and increased labor costs, ultimately leading to increased health care and retirement costs per capita as the population ages.[14]

Workforce reductions due to low fertility have already begun in countries such as Japan and China. The size of the European Union workforce, those aged 20 to 64 years, peaked in 2009. Without a change in their fertility level or immigration, OECD countries overall are expected to lose a quarter of their working-age population by the early 2050s. Responding to population decline will become an overriding policy concern in many countries. As the low fertility generation ages, labor and skills shortages may arise, although these shortages may be partly offset by labor-saving technologies, robotics and automation, outsourcing, immigrant workers, and more older people working, as well as enhanced continuing education and training.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), rich countries will need to spend 21% of GDP a year on the elderly by 2050, up from 16% in 2015, with a quarter going to pensions and the remainder to health care and social assistance.[15] The current level of expenditure may have to be reduced as finances adjust to longer longevity, possibly by raising the retirement age. Part of this may come from reduced expenditure allocated to children.

We will begin to see strains on the provision of public services, health care, and pensions. Demographic trends tend to roll out slowly and are relatively predictable, and the implications will become increasingly noticeable—we have already seen a recent increase in media attention to this issue.

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How should we respond? Politicians will likely continue to push for more family-friendly incentives. When that doesn’t make more than a temporary impact, society will then move to the adaptation stage, which on a local level has already started to happen (such as in countries in East Asia and Southern Europe). In some cases, this has been hidden by COVID-19 and surges in immigration, with incentives provided in an attempt to attract “similar” immigrants to the native-born to fill holes in the labor force, including caregivers, as well as both unskilled and professional workers.
Note that in countries and regions with high fertility, especially those in Africa, there are benefits to lower fertility and the movement through the demographic transition, although the costs are also considerable. This is usually accompanied by wider periods between generations and fewer teenage pregnancies, which can help reduce risks to the health of mothers and their children. There will also be more working-age adults relative to the number of children, which means lower malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as better education and health care services.

Importantly, some strongly believe that a smaller population is less taxing on the planet’s finite resources and will slow down the adverse effect humans have on the environment and the climate. In contrast, society’s most valuable resource is diversity of thought and human collaboration. The more people, the more competition, innovation, dynamism, and growth. Ultra-low fertility rates could bring about economic stagnation in the long term.

Some claim that aging concerns are exaggerated because of an outdated definition of older people, as those in their 60s and even 70s are now more productive and healthier. Despite this, deep societal, economic, and personal concerns remain. Aging represents a major challenge for many societies, placing extra strains on fiscal revenues and spending.

Future fertility rates will continue to present the world with complex and even existential economic and social concerns. The desirability of future population trajectories will remain controversial. Nevertheless, they are issues that society will have to wrestle with and adapt to. It is important to understand these issues and weigh the associated costs and benefits.

SAM GUTTERMAN, MAAA, FSA, FCA, CERA, HonFIA, retired after many years as a director and consulting actuary with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Chicago.

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This article has been based in large part, on Yair Babad, Graham Dermot, and Sam Gutterman (2023). Fertility and ageing: actuarial perspectives. British Actuarial Journal v28, 36. 21 September 2023. 1-33.

[1] The Long-Range Demographic Assumptions for the 2024 Trustees Report—Fertility; Office of the Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration; May 6, 2024.
[2] World Population Prospects 2022—Summary of Results; United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; 2022.
[3] “Women’s educational attainment and fertility among Generation X in the United States”; Population Studies; 2019.
[4] “The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates since the Great Recession”; Journal of Economic Perspectives; Winter 2022.
[5] “On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children”; Journal of Political Economy; 1973.
[6] The Demographic Outlook: 2023 to 2053; Congressional Budget Office; 2023.
[7] United Nations Population Division: 2022 revision.
[8] Methodology, Assumptions, and Inputs for the 2023 National Population Projections; U.S. Census Bureau; November 2023.
[9] Fertility and Forecasting Collaborators (2024). Global fertility in 204 countries and territories, 1950–2021, with forecasts to 2100: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021. The Lancet. March 20, 2024.
[10] “Pro-Natal Policies Work, but They Come with a Hefty Price Tag.” Institute for Family Studies, March 5, 2020.
[11] “Family benefits public spending”; Society at a Glance; OECD; 2024.
[12] “An Essay on the Principle of Population”; Thomas R. Malthus; 1798.
[13] The Population Bomb; Paul Ehrlich, Annie Ehrlich; 1968
[14] The Great Demographic Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and An Inflation Revival; C. Goodhart & M. Pradhan; 2020.
[15] “Shrinking populations mean less growth and a more fractious world”; Economist; May 23, 2024.

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