US Fertility

NECSP’s vision in regards to domestic fertility is of a nation where liberty has truly blossomed  – we believe that all persons need the necessary tools, education and information to control their own fertility in ways they see fit and that barriers to such liberty must be removed.

We envision a land where every child is a planned and wanted child, with provisions made for the necessary parental upbringing, formal education, nutrition and health services he or she needs for the opportunity to grow into a fully functioning adult.

Our vision is of a U.S. population which:

  • Is aware of its fundamental relationship to – and dependence on – the natural ecological endowment of our nation.
  • Takes steps, through the fertility choices we make as individuals and the collective effect of those choices, to beneficially nourish that ecology such that our numbers are able to be sustained by it without degrading or impoverishing it now or in the future.

Total fertility rates (TFRs), defined as “the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates of the measured geographical area through her lifetime; and she were to survive from birth through the end of her reproductive life, are a central measure of whether a population in a given geographical area can be expected to expand, decline or stabilize.

The general measure is that TFR of 2.1 or below will lead to stable or declining populations, while 2.2 or greater will lead to expanding populations.

As of 2008, the United States (U.S.) total fertility rate had risen to 2.1 -- after reaching a low in 1976 of 1.73. Factors in this increase are many. They include the federal government’s damaging policy emphasis on funding abstinence-only human sexuality education beginning in 2000. There is also anecdotal evidence of children becoming status symbols among youthful women , and a vast unmet need for family planning and contraceptive services.

The rise in domestic TFR is contributing to an increase in nominal births, which reached a record of over 4.3 million in 2007 . This in turn is partially fueling the continuing population expansion of the U.S. The U.S. is already the third most populous nation on the planet and expected to contribute more to global population expansion by mid-century than any other nations except Nigeria and India. The U.S. is projected to add 133 million people by 2050 .

The magnitude of this continuing growth in population is alarming and challenging in terms of both domestic and planetary sustainability issues.

U.S. bio-capacity – its domestic surface area available to produce resources and assimilate waste – currently provides only 48% of the annual subsistence for our population. Fifty two percent is provided by importing bio-capacity, drawing down resource reserves, and degrading habitat . In other words, the U.S. is already over-populated in terms of our long term domestic ecological carrying capacity by as many as 150 million people. Despite such data, the U.S. government is not taking appropriate action to address our domestic TFR and the role it plays in our unsustainable population expansion.

Furthermore, while constituting only 5% of the global population the U.S. annually accounts for 22% of global carbon emissions and uses 24% of global energy production -- as our population expands these global inequities are likely to only worsen. 

It has been proven in the real world that determined governments can dramatically influence the TFRs of a nation. For instance, Iran , and Kerela, India both experienced dramatic declines in TFRs using combinations of education and access to family planning methods. Such methods included:

  • Media campaigns encouraging couples to delay their first pregnancy, space births and limit family size.
  • Pre-marital counseling, which includes information about contraception for both men and women, being made a requirement for registering for marriage.
  • Integrating population education into all levels of the education system.
  • Removing economic incentives for large families such as tax deductions.
  • Using well-developed health infrastructure to provide married couples with easy access to modern contraceptive methods -- free of charge at public clinics. 

Public Policy Position
As one means for the stabilization and eventual reduction of the U.S. domestic population, NECSP supports the reduction of US TFR to well below 2.1, with our historical 1976 low of 1.73 as the most ideal first goal.

Specifically, we advocate for:

  • Taking birth control pills off prescription, instead keeping them “behind the counter” where they can be sold after quick and basic health-screening has been done by a trained pharmacist; and providing easy access to other modern contraceptive methods with subsidies and sliding scale charges to all who want them.
  • Removing per child tax deductions beyond the second child.
  • Encouraging states to provide information regarding family planning, the economic benefits of small family size, and the environmental consequences of population expansion as part of issuing marriage licenses.
  • Robust, consistent human sexuality education throughout age-appropriate compulsory public education.
  • Funding of public service announcements regarding family planning, the economic benefits of small family size and the environmental consequences of overpopulation.

Special Notes
NECSP celebrates that the U.S. is a nation whose traditions value liberty and free-will, and therefore we respect the rights of individuals to decide on the spacing and total number of children. That said, NECSP advocates for replacement-level fertility for all nations in the world. 

Although this is an average number of 2.1 children per woman, NECSP believes that couples and women should consider their responsibility to help effect population stabilization when debating whether to have a third (or more) child. Otherwise society, and nature's dwindling resources, will be further taxed to support the couple's needless contribution to U.S. and international overpopulation.

NECSP believes that by making would-be parents aware of the national and international ecological crises we are facing and the benefits of having two children or less, we can create an educated and empowered population that acts in the best interest of the earth and the future generations which rely on a healthy planet for survival.

NECSP suggests that would-be parents who are aware of the national and international ecological crises and still decide to have 3 or more children have probably acted unsustainably –while simultaneously realizing inidividual stories and circumstances are unique. 

  2. In less developed nations, these figures vary and can range as high as 3.5 due to higher mortality rates. See: Espenshade TJ, Guzman JC, and Westoff CF (2003). "The surprising global variation in replacement fertility". Population Research and Policy Review22: 57

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