Letter of the Day (Oct. 9): Birth rate

  • Updated: October 10, 2012 - 10:03 AM

A decline in births might in fact be welcome news.

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A stork is seen as the sun sets, near the town of Volozhin, 70 kilometers (48 miles) northwest of Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 4, 2008.

Photo: Sergei Grits, Associated Press - Ap

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I am curious about the phrase "baby bust" to describe the continued decline in births in the United States ("The baby bust continues: Births down for 4th year," Oct. 4). Calling this decline, which is occurring in most high-income countries, a "bust" suggests it is a bad thing. Global population has almost doubled in the last 50 years.

There are legitimate concerns about our having adequate resources to sustain further population growth. I am also concerned about attributing the birth decline to concerns about the economy in the absence of evidence. According to a 2006-2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of all births in the United States were mistimed or unwanted. Is it possible that the birth decline reflects a decline in unintended births -- and thus reflects more effective family planning?

The Obama administration has funded comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention programs, replacing the abstinence-centered (but not evidence-based) policies under President George W. Bush. It has expanded support for family planning (but not abortion) services. The greatest declines in births in the United States are among teens, unmarried women and women in their early 20s. Is it possible that such women are receiving the education and services they need to effectively delay or prevent childbearing as they pursue educational and occupational goals?


WENDY HELLERSTEDT, ST. PAUL

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