WASHINGTON, D.C., January 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Birth control has allowed women to move America’s economy in a positive direction, according to one Democratic Senator.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Democratic Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin said that birth control let women become “part of the workforce and … [to contribute] … greatly to allowing families to get ahead in the economy.”
Baldwin also told Mitchell that “women joining the workforce” helped the nation move past a period of slow economic growth, and that “women being able to control when or whether they have children and how many” is “so basic to our economic prosperity.”
However, Baldwin's claims are in stark contrast to widespread data about the effect of birth control on a woman's body and the impact of lower fertility rates on economic expansion.
According to Adam Cassandra, Communications Manager for Human Life International, “Women don’t need to contaminate their bodies with taxpayer subsidized drugs and devices that have a history of dangerous side effects – killing thousands of women and an unknown number of preborn children – to contribute to this nation’s economic prosperity.”
Cassandra also said that “all-natural, life-affirming, healthy alternatives” exist to birth control “when there is a serious reason to control the spacing of births.” He criticized Baldwin for preferring “to leave [women] in the dark about natural family planning” and “the many dangers to women's health posed by contraceptives.”
Population experts also project economic difficulties for many countries that are seeing lower fertility rates. According to economist Harry Dent, “the entire Western world — and the Asian Tigers — including China ultimately, are aging and will be seeing modest growth at best and continued decline at worst in the decades ahead.” Dent also predicts that “world growth will shift…to the emerging world from Southeast Asia and India to Latin America to the Middle East and Africa” for several generations.
Youthful populations have been of economic benefit to the economies of other countries, notably Rwanda and the Philippines. The Philippines in particular has received praise for its reforms that have maximized the potential of young workers, including improving government corruption and trade relations.
The “graying” of Europe, Russia, and Japan has also created concerns about future economic growth in those countries. According to a fact sheet from the Population Research Bureau (PRB), Europe has “many countries…grappling with very low birth rates…and potential labor shortages.”
The United States will feel the demographic slowdown projected by Dent. In 2013, America slowed a demographic shift that moved the country below the fertility replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple. This shift took place in 2007, and by 2012 the fertility rate was 1.88 children. In 2013, this rate crept up to 1.9 children.
While Baldwin's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment to clarify the basis of her claim, academic studies show there is concern among economists about the impact of what is called the “graying of America.” One top issue is the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare, federal programs whose trust funds will soon be exhausted. The programs are reliant on great numbers of workers to fund retirement programs for senior citizens, but the ratio has been shrinking for decades.
While 42 workers provided for each retiree receiving Social Security 70 years ago, fewer than three do so now. By 2033, according to the Social Security Administration's projections, barely two will provide for each retiree.
The demographic problem in America has long been assuaged by the high number of immigrants the country sees each year. However, the recession exacerbated this growing problem, as fewer immigrants entered the nation – including illegally – and many young Americans delayed having children to focus on working.
Concerns exist beyond social programs. The “graying” issue was highlighted in a Foreign Policy analysis by Nicholas Eberstadt, who wrote that “global demographic trends…suggest serious and gradually mounting pressures on global economic development and may lead to downward revisions of worldwide material expectations.” Eberstadt's analysis suggests “feasible options do exist to alleviate some of these pressures,” but they “will require deliberate, concerted, and sustained efforts.”
On the opposite side of the demographic analysis are the benefits of having children. A study cited by the Population Research Institute found the difference in economic output between childless couples and those with children to be $217,000 – or 66 percent more economic value. And a Pew Research study found what a New York Times article called “a strong link between falling fertility and economic malaise” in the United States. The only state to slightly grow demographically from 2008 to 2009 was economic powerhouse North Dakota.
The PRB fact sheet also says a demographic change in the American workforce impacts fertility, as women graduate college more than men and “a growing reliance on women’s employment and earnings could further dampen U.S. fertility rates in the coming decades.”
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher told LifeSiteNews.com that “Senator Baldwin's proposal would make us all poorer by eliminating the one resource we cannot do without: human beings.”
Religious Americans may increase in power and influence as the demographic shift takes place; with far more children than their secular or “fallen-away” counterparts, demographic author Jonathan Last believes “it is entirely possible that we are sitting at the high watermark of secularism right now in America.”