Usually, having a baby costs money. But in places like Hungary, parents are actually making money -- as much as $35,000 for a third child. It's the country's latest solution to the falling fertility rate, a problem the U.S. can unfortunately identify with.
Offering parents a little incentive, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's administration insisted, isn't a bribe. “This way they don't need to wait years to have enough savings to have children.” Faced with a fertility rate that's below even the European Union's – 1.49 – the demographic crisis is a serious one. Here in the U.S., the number is slightly higher, but still cause for serious concern. This week, the CDC released the latest birth rate from 2018 – 1.73 – the lowest ever recorded. The drop, a full two percent, means America is well below the replacement levels it needs to renew the population.
Of course, the really bad news is this: the U.S. has been below that replacement level for the last decade. And if anyone ought to be sweating that statistic, it's Congress. After all, the House just gave the green light to a budget deal that could add as much as $2 trillion in debt to our already staggering $22 trillion. But without a growing pool of future taxpayers, just who do they think will pay it off? With fewer workers in the pipeline to prop up the older generation, it's no wonder experts are saying America will feel the effects of this shifting family dynamic “for years to come.”
If you want to know where America is headed, Robert Samuelson writes in a sobering June column for The Washington Post, try Japan.
“[According to economist Timothy Taylor, Japan] is facing a situation of a declining population and workforce, and the share of the population that is elderly is on the rise. [This is] driving up government spending on pensions and health care, and together with attempts to stimulate its economy through government spending (much of it on infrastructure), Japan has run up an enormous government debt. To put it bluntly (as I have argued before): Japan is slowly going out of business ... This cannot continue indefinitely.”
The United States is not Japan – at least not yet. But lately, as FRC's own research has found, there's been an erosion of the openness to children – which is driven by at least two things: the radical sexual revolution we're experiencing and government policies that deemphasize family. In a country where abortion, welfare programs, massive student loans, and fewer options for child care take the incentive out of family-formation, most couples are either putting off marriage and children – or forgoing them altogether.
If you can't grow the families, you can't grow the economy. But then, that's the irony of liberalism. They complain about overpopulation and lobby against pro-life laws, when the rest of their big government agenda falls apart without more taxpayers. And where do we get future taxpayers? From the same wombs groups like Planned Parenthood want to empty.
The world is on the verge of reaping the long-term consequences of this mentality that children are a drain on resources, rather than a reward from the Lord. Just look at Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture does God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” have an expiration date. If we really want to save the world, it's time we looked at children – not as burdens, but blessings.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Family Research Council.