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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Ross Douthat Gives Reason to Vote for President Obama

Ross Douthat Gives Reason to Vote for President Obama

Saturday, 08 September 2012 22:26

Douthat tells us that the birthrate has fallen below the replacement rate. I haven't checked this one, but that sure sounds like good news to me. Has anyone noticed a shortage of people anywhere? Do you want more crowded parks and beaches, more traffic congestion, more pollution and global warming?

If people who want kids can't afford to have them or feel too insecure in their economic situation, that is bad news. But if we are seeing our population decline rather than rise (immigration will actually keep it rising), it's difficult to see the problem. As I say, it would be great news if this was really the biggest problem we faced.

Comments (6)Add Comment
Uh, Ross, unlike broken clocks, broken records are not right twice a day. Or ever.
written by Lex, September 09, 2012 1:06
As it happens, an essay on this same general subject by Douthat was the basis for my final project in a graduate-level data-visualization coursre I took earlier this summer. In a preface to my charts, I cautioned the professor that one would have to be an idiot to take anything Douthat said at face value and that if (as he was in this case) he was purporting to cite a demographer, then checking the original material was essential.

In THAT essay, published in April, Douthat suggested not only that Japan was leading the industrialized world to demographic disaster but also that this disaster was attributable to a high suicide rate (something that 1) Douthat's source never mentioned and 2) was substantially lower than Hungary's, which has been appalling for most of the past half-century or more. He also falsely claimed that Japan's divorce rate was higher than that of "northern Europe," when in fact it was lower than those of not only the Scandinavian countries but also those of France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

Apparently you can get a job writing for the NYT op-ed page just by slinging any old crap that sounds vaguely plausible. Perhaps I should try my hand at it.
True but misleading
written by Robert Salzberg, September 09, 2012 5:32
If you follow the embedded link in the Douthat piece you'd find the blog post that does indeed show that the birth rate in the U.S. has fallen slightly below 2 per female in the U.S. but only since the Great Recession and the rate has already increased from it's bottom.

If you look at the source's follow up post you find that almost all future population growth will occur outside of developed countries.


Declining teen birth rates a good thing
written by Robert Salzberg, September 09, 2012 6:26
The latest available report shows teen birth rates declining by 9% in 2010 compared with 2009 to hit historical lows in the U.S. but we still have higher teen birth rates than most of the developed world.

Link for where future population growth in the world will come from
written by Robert Salzberg, September 09, 2012 6:33
Linked report showing that most future population growth will occur outside of developed countries.

New Culture War: Population Conspires to Reduce Itself to Raise Wage Income
written by Last Mover, September 09, 2012 7:34
Douthat tells us that the birthrate has fallen below the replacement rate.

This is obviously a conspiracy to restore 30 years of lost productivity gains that were redistributed from wage earners to the upper class. There's more than one way to get back to full employment and earnings. Reduce the size of the labor force by reducing the population.
written by david j michel jr,, September 09, 2012 5:11
I dont get it ,why is that a reason to vote for obummer ,unless you understand that in his second term he will give unlimited amnesty to all illegals.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.