Don’t fear; declining birth rates are here

Opinion 

Story by Max Guererra

Busy parking lots, crowded stores and long lines are just a few of the inconveniences we face in our everyday lives. While these aren’t detrimental issues, they have similar root causes as significant crises such as housing and employment insecurity. 

The population on Earth has continued to grow exponentially while our planet stays the same size and in its current condition, it won’t be able to support us much longer. As the number of people rises, resources become more scarce, which is why the declining birth rate is a beacon of hope. 

Because the birth rate in the United States has been declining for 34 years before 2020 (with 2017 and 2021 as an exception), alarm bells have been ringing. 

While the Great Recession caused an additional dip, this is often attributed to women having more opportunities in the workforce and the cost of raising children increasing. 

The generational wealth gap in the United States has more than doubled in the past 20 years, so it’s no surprise that millennials are waiting longer to start a family or not have children.

Many fear that low birth rates will negatively impact the economy, but in what way? A population decline would lead to a smaller workforce, resulting in a lower gross domestic product (GDP) or market value. 

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, annual GDP growth slowed by 1.2 percentage points from 2010 to 2020 due to population aging. 

While this is worrying from an industrial perspective, as corporations may expect to lose revenue due to a smaller number of consumers and workers, individuals will have the opportunity to save money instead of spending it on their children and contribute to shrinking the generational wealth gap.

 Couples who fall within the dual income, no kids category tend to have higher disposable incomes and may even have the option to retire earlier because they have more money to save and invest. 

Eliana Dockterman of the New York Times argues that a declining birthrate will further increase income inequality because “fewer students mean many institutions of higher education will be forced to close without sufficient incoming tuition, leading to a further inequity in the system,” but she fails to consider that these changes will happen subtly. At the same time, universities may have to alter their budgets, a smaller student population will require a more nominal cost of operation. 

With fewer applicants, acceptance rates will rise and more people will have the opportunity to obtain a college education. 

Overpopulation may be closer to impacting you than you realize. As the number of California residents increases, so do housing costs. 

Los Angeles County saw a population increase of 5.2% from 2010 to 2019, and the average price of a home almost doubled, from $328,140 to $641,340. 

While the rising cost of housing can’t be attributed to the population entirely, data shows that as demand increases, so do prices. A similar situation is impacting the CSUMB community, as the number of students living on campus has increased from 3,036 in the fall 2021 semester to 3,275 in fall 2022. 

While this may seem like an insignificant change, the number of students living on campus impacts university decisions, as officials are in the initial stages of working with The Michaels Organization, a private development company, to construct new housing units on the empty lot on Second Avenue. 

While creating more living spaces on campus could benefit the CSUMB community, it’s questionable if a partnership with a private firm is in the best interest of the students and faculty living there. 

The first principle in the proposal request is to “generate revenue to serve CSUMB’s educational mission.” Still, I’m not convinced that our campus has the resources to support an influx of new students. 

It’s crucial that those seeking higher education have access to it and it’s undeniable that expanding our campus would give opportunities to more students. 

Declining birth rates make resources such as housing and education more accessible to everyone.

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