Wednesday, January 09, 2013

If only there was some social institution that we could use to foster the idea that having children is a good and desirable thing. 

Something that would pair men and women up in a permanent relationship oriented toward having and raising children in a way that is most likely to ensure their social, intellectual and physical health.

Nah, crazy idea.

Wall Street Journal - A California Drought: Not Enough Children

Ever since the Gold Rush, the majority of Californians has been born elsewhere. That pattern began to change in the 1990s, when migrants were attracted by the lower cost of living and rapid growth in other Western and Southern states. Then, the housing bust and 2008 financial crisis hit California harder than most states. By 2010, more than half of all adults 25 to 34 years old were born in California.

At the same time, the state's birthrate fell to 1.94 children per woman in 2010, below the replacement level of 2.1 children, according to the study. California's rate is lower than the overall U.S. rate of 2.06 children in 2012, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

The shrinking pool of youngsters coincides with a bulging population of older people. Nationally, "we are approaching a period of very large retirement, something like two million people a year for the next 20 years," said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, an independent research group.
In 1970, California averaged 21 seniors for every 100 working-age adults. By 2030, that ratio is expected to rise to 36 seniors per 100 working-age adults, according to the report. That retirement wave will place "massive pressure on institutions and programs for an aging population," the report said.

Today's children will be the workers who pay for those programs and who take jobs vacated by boomers in the state's high-technology hub in Silicon Valley, its entertainment industry in Los Angeles and its farm belt in the Central Valley.
"Unless the birthrate picks up, we are going to need more immigrants. If neither happens, we are going to have less growth," said Mr. Levy. The report wasn't optimistic, saying that "with migration greatly reduced…outsiders are much less likely to come to the rescue."

Investments in the state's education system will be vital to meet labor-force needs and prevent the economy from contracting, said Mr. Levy. With less migration to the state, the skills and human capital necessary to keep California's economy afloat will need to be homegrown, both Mr. Levy and Mr. Myers said.

With more than 90% of the state's children under age 10 born in the state, "the majority of the next generation of workers will have been shaped by California's health and education systems," Mr. Myers said. "It's essential that we nurture our human capital."
Many of those future workers, however, will have grown up in poverty. More than 20% of children in California now live below the federal poverty level
 
Notice how the word "marriage" doesn't show up in this discussion, which after all concludes with the idea about "nurturing" California's "human capital"?

So the problem is not enough children and the children that we do have growing up in poverty?  Social science has proven repeatedly that marriage - healthy, Western-style, lifelong, companionate, monogamouse marriage - is the answer to both problems, and it doesn't cost a thing.

And, yet, we are driving a stake through the heart of that kind of marriage.

We are insane.

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