Leading economists have been warning for decades that a shrinking population spells significant turmoil for our economy and broader society. This is not a problem exclusive to the United States either – for example, South Korea, a country with one of the lowest fertility rates, is offering new parents cheaper mortgage rates to encourage them to have children (at 1-3% lower than commercial banks), as well as several other initiatives.
High inflation has long been identified as a deterrent to couples having more children, which is understandable. The more expensive the cost of living, the less likely people will want more children they need to financially support. And although inflation is continuing to ease, it still sits at over 3%, meaning that the overall measure of prices for a broad range of goods and services is 3% more than a year ago.
Though analysts see it as a positive forecast, the effect of the high cost of living over the last couple of years has had a significant effect on family planning among young couples. That is, according to a study by MadeintheUSASurrogacy.com, who ran a survey of 3,000 childless couples, asking them how many children they would like to have in the future. The survey revealed that on average, couples would like to have 1.7 children*, which 0.2 lower than the current average of 1.9. While this discrepancy might seem minimal, it signifies a considerable decline when scaled to the national population level.
While a common assumption is that a falling population will be better as it might lead to reduced demand for scarce resources, economists warn that America could face multiple economic challenges if couples here choose to have less children. A falling population results in a smaller labor force, which can stifle economic growth, cause labor shortages, particularly in labor-intensive sectors, and reduce overall consumer demand. Additionally, an aging demographic is often associated with a declining population, leading to increased healthcare and pension costs, straining public finances. It may also reduce the tax base, making it difficult for the government to maintain public services and infrastructure. On the real estate front, decreased demand could lead to falling property values. Education and innovation might suffer due to less demand for educational services.
However, environmental benefits might emerge through reduced strain on resources and lower carbon emissions. Various factors can influence these effects, including immigration policies, the speed of population decrease, government policies, technological advancements, and the state’s economic structure.
Diving deeper into the survey data, MadeintheUSASurrogacy.com made some interesting observations.
Couples from forty-three out of 50 states said they intend on having less children than the current state average. Only couples from Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Utah bucked the trend. New Hampshire and New Mexico couples intend on having more children (0.6 and 0.2 more respectively) and couples from Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland and Utah stated they intend on having the same number of children as the current state average.
Based on the data, it appears Delaware is set to experience the most significant population plunge in America. Based on Census data, Delaware is the 6th least populated state in America (just over 1 million people). Couples surveyed in Delaware said they would only want to have one child (or statistically 0.9) – a swing of -1.1 compared to a current state average of 1.96.
As previously stated, New Hampshire (along with New Mexico) is one of two states set to experience population growth, with respondents here saying they would like to have 2.3 children – a +0.6 swing.
The top 10 states with the largest expected population plunge:
1. Delaware: -1.1
2. Alaska: -1.0
3. Idaho: -0.7
4. Nebraska: -0.6
5. Arizona: -0.5
6. Oregon: -0.5
7. Wyoming: -0.5
8. Connecticut: -0.4
9. Tennessee: -0.4
10. Iowa: -0.4
Check out the family trends within each state on this interactive map.
“Our research indicates a shifting mindset around family growth, largely influenced by economic pressures. It’s imperative that policymakers recognize these trends and evaluate their long-term implications. While there may be environmental advantages to a smaller population, the potential economic challenges cannot be overlooked. As we navigate these changing demographic landscapes, it’s essential to explore every avenue that promotes family growth,” says Samantha Giermek from MadeintheUSASurrogacy.com.
*The figures within the release and infographic have been rounded to one decimal place.