Monday, February 4, 2013

America's baby bust

Who would've thunk I'd be posting on my infertility blog about an article I read today from this weekend's Wall Street Journal?  Yet here we are.  And apparently I'm partly to blame for the U.S.'s "baby bust":

"Today, America's total fertility rate is 1.93, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it hasn't been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s."

 My mom is the oldest of 7, my dad the oldest of 3.  I have 1 uncle who has 4 kids; everyone else has 1 or 2.  My in-laws also come from large families of 4 & 5 kids each.  However, my parents only had 2 kids: me & my younger sister.  And my in-laws did the same: my sister-in-law came along 18 mos after Vid was born.  Contrary to what the average American thinks of India, the south of the country, where Vid is from, has undergone massive family planning campaigns since the 1970s.  Among his peers, most of them also only have 1 sibling.  If we ever manage to procreate, we are "1 & done", unless a miracle occurs in the form of twins or the immaculate conception,  So what can we do to help encourage procreation?  Some ideas:

"Conservatives like to think that if we could just provide the right tax incentives for childbearing, then Americans might go back to having children the way they did 40 years ago. Liberals like to think that if we would just be more like France—offer state-run day care and other programs so women wouldn't have to choose between working and motherhood—it would solve the problem. But the evidence suggests that neither path offers more than marginal gains."

Both tax incentives & state run day cares are interesting ideas to be sure.  But what about us infertiles who don't get squat in the way of tax breaks for our embryos crapping out before they turn into humans?  I suppose I should take solace in the fact I can write off health care related expenses if they exceed 10% of income.  But what about those if us who will never use state-run daycare, even if we do finally have a kid?  I know daycare is expensive & all but so is infertility!  And @ least you have fun with kids; there is nothing fun about giving yourself a shot in the ass every night & then still getting your period.

Speaking of which:

"The problem is that, while making babies is fun, raising them isn't. A raft of research shows that if you take two people who are identical in every way except for childbearing status, the parent will be on average about six percentage points less likely to be "very happy" than the nonparent. (That's just for one child. Knock off two more points for each additional bundle of joy.)"

1. Making babies is not fun for an infertile. 2. I beg to differ that I am happier than a parent.  Do I think having a baby will make me the hap, hap, happiest person since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye?  No.  But for every woman complaining about 3am feedings there is another wishing it was her.


ReadyForMyTurn said...

I do agree that I know a lot of dry unhappy parents (few of whom admit unhappiness). It's the American dream to have a family and only the weak would admit unhappiness. That said, I know I am born to care for others. So while I expect I will have unhappiness in being a mother, I go into it with open eyes.

kthappy76 said...

I was surprised there was no mention of the rise in infertility (vs the fall in voluntary fertility) in the article. If the U.S. birth rate is a problem, which I think is overstated, it would make sense to look at all ways to address it, including funding for research and treatment of IF, so that more of us who want and can support kids can have them instead of just leaving it to those uber-fertiles who can get pg even when they don't want to be. Even though the U.S. has mostly non-family friendly policies when compared to other countries, the existing tax benefits for kids are pretty obscene IMO, though not significant enough to incent people to have kids they weren't already planning to have, so they certainly don't address this issue. The world is different, and in many ways better, now and most people from big families have smaller ones because they can and because it can be difficult being in a big family, there's only so much of everything to go around, it just doesn't make sense like it did when there was no BC and your family was your uneducated labor force. My DH also talks about the family planning campaigns he saw growing up in India, and they worked, no limits needed like in China. His parents both came from huge families, but he has one sib too.

jak said...

very thought-provoking post! this is a little off topic, but not too much - the tax incentive and other govt support should be neutral when comparing those who chose to have children with those who to chose not to. it really isnt fair any other way.

what really pisses me off though, is how IF is dealt with overall, medically. IF is a MEDICAL issue. it is something that is broken about our bodies that we deserve to have fixed just like someone with cancer, or mental health issues, or an addiction (i know, not even comparable, but just go with me here...), or a deviated septum, or sleep apnea.... etc. i believe strongly that health insurance should cover IF treatments (within reason) as well as it covers all sorts of other crap, especially the self-induced crap like drug smoking-related lung cancer, COPD, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes related kidney failure, glaucoma, or limb amputation. i am lucky enough to live in a state that mandates that IF be covered, but i know others out there, anasara, you included, are pitching over a lot more for this than i am and that is unfair. all the while people who have smoked themselves into the grave are covered to be maintained at a premium rate in a hospital bed sucking down oxygenated air (not trying to be cruel here, my dad is in the advanced COPD category and he did it to himself, so i have street cred on this, haha).

ok, i'll step off the soap box...

Rebecca said...

This is just another reason why it is difficult to do domestic adoption...not enough available babies.

C Hunter said...

I've been hearing about this problem for awhile now. It's much, much worse in places like Russia, Japan, and England. On the horizon though there are better and more cost effective infertility treatments, for example egg freezing costs have begun and will continue over time to decline. As will many other procedures so that hopefully we can bridge the gap between those who want a child, but because of infertility costs can't afford one.