By Adam Minter, Bloomberg Opinion
In 2018, American women gave birth to the fewest number of children since 1986, according to U.S. government data released last week. The decline since 2007, when a record 4.2 million children were born, has been precipitous. Births have declined every year since then but one, falling to 3.8 million. That amounts to a fertility rate of 1.7 children per American woman in her lifetime — well below the rate of 2.1 necessary to maintain a stable population.
The decline poses a long-term problem for an aging country in which more and more citizens are dependent upon Social Security, government health care and a shrinking number of workers to fund both. But the U.S. is hardly unique. For three decades, Asia’s most successful economies have experimented with a range of policies to reverse far more serious declines in fertility. What they’ve learned is that the only sure way to reverse the trend is to do what the U.S. has historically done better than virtually any other nation on earth: accept immigrants.