Baby burdens: Not enough infants being born to support aging population

Published: Sunday, Dec. 16 2012 6:44 p.m. MST

Babies sleep comfortably now, not knowing the birth rate is declining and what that means for their adult working years.

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The problem seems inevitable. Soon there will not be enough young workers to take care of all the older Americans. NPR had several stories that look at the demographics and the potential difficulties.

Jess Jiang reported on NPR in early November that in the U.S. today there are 23 seniors for every 100 working-age people.

By 2060 the ratio of seniors to workers will double.

"Populations are aging," Jiang wrote, "maily because people are having fewer and fewer babies, not because life expectancy is increasing."

At the end of November, Jiang wrote another report for NPR on the subject and how the U.S. birth rate hit an all time low of 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. "(T)hat means fewer workers helping to pay for programs like Medicare and Social Security that support the elderly," Jiang wrote.

A few days later, NPR reporter Alex Blumberg related the birthrate's impact on the world his two-year-old son will inherit: "But the fall in the birthrate means that, by the time my son gets to be my age, there will be fewer working people for each retiree. So he'll have to pay a bigger share of my retirement costs — which he may not want to do. So maybe we should start paying more now, or agree that retirees should accept a bit less, or do both. Or maybe we shouldn't worry about it."

The "not worry" part comes from what Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told NPR, that workers become more productive over time and everybody will have a higher standard of living so everything will be OK.

Tell that to the babies.

Email: mdegroote@desnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

Email: mdegroote@desnews.com

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