American families are facing a crisis that threatens their finances and wellbeing, but President Trump has the solution.
Young Americans today are not having enough children. The entire country’s fertility rate of 1.8 children per woman is now well below “replacement rate” – generally recognized to be about 2.1 children – meaning this generation is not even having enough kids to replace itself.
Those are just numbers on a page, but the fertility crisis is very real. At the local level, it means empty homes and empty lives, retirees in institutional care with no children or grandchildren to care for them, closing school districts, and universities filling their depleted ranks with the scions of China and India’s growing middle classes.
At the nationwide level, it means an aging society and a slowly collapsing social safety net as fewer and fewer young workers pay into the system for each beneficiary. It also means a generation of immigrants who will grow up, for the first time in American history, without a critical mass of native-born Americans to welcome and assimilate them into our culture and traditions.
No society in human history has survived an extended period in a fertility crisis like ours. Something must be done.
There are probably dozens of valid theories out there to explain our current predicament, but rather than rely on academic hypotheses, let’s consider what the young people themselves have to say.
Asked why they don’t have as many kids as they would like to, the number one answer that would-be parents give is that “child care is too expensive.” Nearly two-thirds say it’s a concern. Almost half of these young adults say they “can’t afford more children.”
Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they’re foregoing childbearing because they have no paid family leave. Slightly more than that say it’s because they don’t have enough paid family leave.
This week, President Trump sent his 2020 budget plan to Congress, which addresses each of these concerns with targeted solutions to help working Americans who struggle to afford children.
In the sprawling, convoluted federal budget, few appropriations are so narrowly tailored and perfectly targeted as the one-time, $1 billion investment that the president proposed. It encourages states to develop child care solutions specifically for the working and studying mothers who fall through the cracks of existing programs, removing the single greatest impediment to childbearing.
Also included in the president’s budget proposal are incentives for employers to offer paid family leave, which is equally critical for solving the fertility crisis. Young women in their childbearing years – and the young men who love them – are the least able to afford to pay for childcare or take the time off work to properly raise kids.
These are proven solutions. Paid family leave, for instance, has strong backing in scientific literature as an effective means of enabling families who want kids to have them.
My sister-in-law, Ivanka Trump, was instrumental in laying the groundwork for these policies, especially paid family leave, which has been one of her top priorities since the 2016 presidential campaign. She’s met with countless American families to learn about the struggles they face, and those conversations have helped the administration craft an innovative and efficient response.
The costs of the reforms and incentives that President Trump has requested are very low in the scheme of the federal budget and will pay major dividends in households and communities across America. If you consider the cost of doing nothing – a worsening demographic decline and an outnumbered generation obligated to pay for millions of childless retirees – a mere billion dollars starts to sound like the bargain of a lifetime.
The declining birthrate is one of the greatest challenges America currently faces, but by implementing the simple but effective solutions in the president’s 2020 budget proposal, we can reverse this trend and ensure that America will continue to be great for generations to come.