Re: Suddenly There Aren’t Enough Babies. The Whole World Is Alarmed.

Written by Olivia Nater | Published: May 16, 2024

The Wall Street Journal recently published an op-ed that lamented low birth rates. We responded with a letter to the editor, which wasn’t published, so we are featuring it here.

We encourage all our members and supporters to make their voices heard! See our media guide for advice on how to do that.

Dear Editor,

Greg Ip and Janet Adamy portray declining birth rates as a big problem, ignoring their many benefits which far outweigh their economic downsides. First of all, as fleetingly acknowledged in the article, low fertility is a result of women gaining more choices and greater access to education and careers — a major victory, not something to lament.

Secondly, ending population growth is absolutely essential if we are to have a chance of halting our environmental crises, from climate change to resource depletion to biodiversity loss. Our impact on the planet is a product of how many of us there are, and how much each of us consumes. As our current population — of which a large proportion still lives in poverty — consumes resources almost twice as fast as the Earth can regenerate them, stabilizing our population at a lower level will give us a much better chance of ensuring a decent quality of life for everyone.

Thirdly, there can be many socioeconomic benefits to declining birth rates too. Ip and Adamy state that consequences range “from closed schools to stagnant property values,” but they also range from less competition for school admissions and jobs to more affordable housing.

The authors dismiss immigration as a solution, claiming that “recent inflows have been predominantly unskilled migrants.” In fact, even “unskilled” migrants make for much better workers than infants.

Immigration can temporarily help slow population aging, but we still need to accept that small families and zero population growth are the future. Instead of fighting this demographic inevitability, we must prepare by rethinking our economic and pension systems, and by investing in preventive healthcare and child welfare to help maximize the number of productive members of society. As a famous economist once quipped, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.”


Olivia Nater
Communications Manager
Population Connection