Baby bust

In 1950, the average woman had 4.7 children in her lifetime. In 2017, that number had dropped to 2.4. By 2100, according to a new study, it could fall further to 1.7, well below replacement.

I think that declining fertility is one of the most underrated problems in the world, made so in part by the idea held by man that this is a good thing.

In the medium run, a declining fertility rate is a disaster for our welfare state, which mostly shifts money from young to old (much more so than from rich to poor). In the long run, this is a disaster for our civilization.

Worst of all, it’s not at all clear what we can do reverse this trend. Singapore in particular, which has a fertility rate of 1.3, and which is a generally very well governed country, has tried various policy interventions including direct subsidies to parents to little effect.