House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) listed three “things we’re trying to do right now to get this economy humming to reach its potential.” These included, passing Republican tax reform and fixing the “regulatory problem,” and “people.”

Ryan said, “People. This is going to be the new economic challenge for America. People. Baby boomers are retiring. I did my part, but, you know, we need to have higher birth rates in this country, meaning, baby boomers are retiring and we have fewer people following them in the workforce.”

Ryan and his wife have three children. 

“We have something like a 90 percent increase in the retirement population in America, but only a 19 percent increase in the working population in America,” Ryan said. “So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology? Still going to need more people. And when we have tens of millions of people right here in this country falling short of their potential, not working, not looking for a job, or not in school getting a skill to get a job, that’s a problem.”

While some demographers worry that the economy will decline as does the birthrate, others are confident that with a rising economy there will be more births. The birth rate in the U.S. is still higher than most of Europe, for example, and Japan.

The birth rate for the United States has dropped in the ten years since the so-called Great Recession, according to the World Bank. There was a huge drop in the years between 1960 and 1975. As of 2015, there were 1.84 births per woman in the U.S. According to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control in June, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, taking the fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The number of deliveries among women in their 30s and 40s increased, however.  According to the CDC, the number of births per woman hit its lowest point in history this year.

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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