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Baby Bust: What to Expect When No One's Expecting

Weekly Standard senior writer Jonathan Last warns that unless we change our views about the value of raising children, America faces a bleak future. Read Transcript


Pat: WE READ TODAY --

AT LEAST I READ TODAY --

THAT CHINA HAS NOW SURPASSED

THE UNITED STATES IN TERMS

OF TOTAL EXPORTS.

THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT

OF CHINA IS ABOUT

$7.2 TRILLION.

THE UNITE UNITED STATES IS

ABOUT $15 TRILLION.

SO WE'RE TWICE AS LARGE AN

ECONOMY, AND YET THEIR

EXPORTS ARE BIGGER THAN

OURS, NUMBER ONE IN THE

WORLD.

YOU SAY THE BIGGEST THREAT

FACING AMERICA IS CHINA.

ACCORDING TO OUR NEXT GUEST,

THE BIGGEST THREAT FACING

AMERICAN MAY NOT BE CHINA OR

TERRORISM OR ANY FOREIGN

COUNTRY, OR EVEN OUR

NATIONAL DEBT.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE FACE,

HE SAYS, IS SOMETHING FROM

OUR OWN HOMES.

TAKE A LOOK.

FOR YEARS WE'VE BEEN

WARNED, THERE ARE ARE TOO

MANY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

THAT WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF

LAND, FOOD, AND EVERYTHING

ELSE NEEDED TO SUSTAIN AN

OVERPOPULATED PLANET.

BUT AUTHOR JONATHAN LEST

SAYS THE BIGGEST CRISIS

FACING THE UNITED STATES AND

THE WORLD IS JUST THE

OPPOSITE.

HE HAS WRITTEN THE BOOK

CALLED "WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN

NO ONE IS EXPECTING."

LEST SAYS THE GREATEST

THREAT TO LIFE IN AMERICA IS

US AND OUR COLLECTIVE

UNWILLINGNESS TO HAVE MORE

KIDS.

HE SAYS THAT UNLESS WE

CHANGE OUR VIEWS ABOUT THE

VALUE OF RAISING CHILDREN,

AMERICA FACES A BLEAK

FUTURE.

DISEASE, WAR, AND ECONOMIC

COLLAPSE ARE ALL ON THE

HORIZON AS THE FERTILITY

RATE PLUMMETS AND OUR

POPULATION DECLINES.

Pat: WELL, WE'VE GOT

THE AUTHOR OF AN INTRIGUING

BOOK, "WHAT TO EXPECT TO

WHEN NO ONE IS EXPECTING,

AMERICA'S COMING DEMOGRAPHIC

DISASTER."

JONATHAN LEST JOINS US FROM

WASHINGTON.

GOOD TO HAVE YOU.

I WAS INTERESTING IN READING

YOUR BOOK.

I WANT TO TAKE ISSUE IN ONE

THING, I'M A FATHER OF FOUR,

AND WHEN WE WERE HAVING

LITTLE CHILDREN GROWING UP,

IT WAS A REAL PLEASURE.

SURE, IT COSTS A LOT OF

MONEY, BUT YOU MAKE IT SOUND

ENORMOUSLY EXPENSIVE.

IF WE TOTAL UP ALL OF THE

COSTS INCLUDING COLLEGE AND

MISSING WAGES AND CHILD

CARE, IT COSTS THE AVERAGE

MIDDLE-CLASS COUPLE OVER A

MILLION DOLLARS TO RAISE A

CHILD.

IT IS LIKE BUYING FIVE

HOUSES ALL AT ONCE.

THIS COST HAS INCREASED A

LOT SINCE 1965.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS

PEOPLE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO

HAVE AS MANY CHILDREN AS

THEY WANT TO.

Pat: ALL RIGHT.

LET'S GO TO SOME FIGURES.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE TO

SUSTAIN THE POPULATION.

IS IT 2.1 BIRTHS PER

THOUSAND.

2.1 BIRTHS PER WOMAN, PER

LIFE.

Pat: PER WOMAN.

Reporter: THE AVERAGE

NEEDS TO HAVE 2.1 WOMEN OVER

YOUR LIFETIME TO KEEP THE

POPULATION STABLE.

WHAT DEMOGRAPHERS CALL THE

REPLACE RATE.

Pat: THERE WAS A

PSYCHOLOGIST IN NEW ENGLAND

WHO WAS PROMINENT, AND SHE

JUMPED ALL OVER ME AND SHE

SAID, MR MR. ROBERTS SEEMS

TO THINK THE WOMAN'S WOMB IS

A NATIONAL RESOURCE.

IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

NO, NOT AT ALL.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED, AND A

LOT OF WOMEN AND MEN WHO DO

NOT WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN.

BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I

DISCOVERED WRITING THIS

BOOK, WHEN DEMOGRAPHERS TALK

ABOUT THE IDEAL AMOUNT THE

PEOPLE IN AMERICA WANT TO

HAVE.

AND IN AMERICA, THAT NUMBER

IS 2.5.

SO DESPITE ALL OF THE TALK

ABOUT MEN NOT WANTING THIS

AND WOMEN NOT WANTING THIS,

THE TRUTH IS AMERICANS STILL

WANT BIGGER FAMILIES, BUT

THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO

HAVE THEM.

THE GAP BETWEEN OUR REAL

FERT-ELEC FERTILITY AND OUR

IDEAL FERTILITY EXPLAINS THE

GAP BETWEEN PEOPLE HAVING

THE FAMILIES THEY WANT.

Pat: JONATHAN, WHAT

WILL HAPPEN IF WE AS A

NATION DOES NOT KEEP THE

REPLACEMENT RATE GOING.

WHAT HAPPENS?

ALL SORTS OF BAD THINGS

HAPPEN, AND SOME ARE

OBVIOUS.

YOU WOULD EXPECT OUR

ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS,

MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY

BECOME VERY DIFFICULT TO

MAINTAIN.

BECAUSE YOU HAVE TOO MANY

PEOPLE RETIRING AND NOT

ENOUGH YOUNGER WORKERS.

AND IT BECOMES VERY HARD TO

SUSTAIN A DYNAMIC ECONOMY.

THE CONSUMPTION SHIFTS

DOWNWARD.

INNOVATION DRIES UP, AND

CAPITAL POOLS BEGAN TO

SHIFT, BECAUSE HAVE HAVE

OLDER PEOPLE LOOKING TO USE

THEIR CAPITAL, AND NOT

ENOUGH YOUNGER PEOPLE.

AND THERE IS JUST THE

MONEY.

YOU'RE SHIFTING OUT YOUR

MONEY FROM THE PENTAGON OVER

TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY

OFFICE.

AND JUST IN TERMS OF HAVING

THE PEOPLE OF MILITARY AGE,

18 TO 24.

THERE AREN'T ENOUGH OF THEM

TO FIELD A MILITARY.

Pat: GIVE US SOME OF

THE HORROR STORIES.

EUROPE AND JAPAN.

THINK ABOUT JAPAN.

REMEMBER IN THE 1980s,

WHEN WE WERE GOING TO ALL

WORK FOR THE JAPANESE.

AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT

HOW WE WERE GOING TO HAVE TO

TEACH ALL OF OUR KIDS IN THE

PUBLIC SCHOOLS HOW TO SPEAK

JAPANESE IF THEY WERE GOING

TO EARN A LIVING.

THE DEMOGRAPHERS WERE

WARNING THE JAPANESE PEOPLE

THEIR FERTILITY RATE WAS SO

LOW.

AND JAPAN WENT INTO THIS

ENORMOUS RECESSION.

THE JAPANESE CALLED IT THE

LOST DECADE, BUT IT IS STILL

GOING TODAY.

BOTH ECONOMISTS AND

DEMOGRAPHERS IN JAPAN SAY IT

IS ALL BECAUSE OF THEIR

FERTILITY RATE.

THEY WEREN'T ABLE TO SUSTAIN

THEIR HUMAN CAPITAL.

JAPAN IS GOING TO LOSE A

LITTLE MORE THAN 50% OF ITS

ENTIRE POPULATION IN THE

NEXT CENTURY.

Pat: WHY?

I WAS STATIONED IN JAPAN

DURING THE KOREAN WAR.

I DIDN'T SEE THE JAPANESE

PEOPLE UNWILLING TO HAVE SEX

WITH EACH OTHER.

WHAT'S THE DEAL?

WHY DON'T THEY WANT TO

HAVE BABIES?

PART OF IT IS

UNWILLINGNESS TO HAVE SEX.

THERE WAS A SURVEY A WHILE

AGO, AND BOYS BETWEEN 15 AND

19 THOUGHT EVEN THE IDEA OF

SEX WITH A WOMAN WAS

DISGUSTING TO THEM.

THIS IS THE FIRST COUNTRY IN

THE WORLD WHERE YOU HAVE

TEENAGED BOYS WHO THINK LIKE

THAT.

AND THE OTHER PART OF WHAT

HAPPENED IN JAPAN IS THEIR

MARRIAGE CULTURE HAS

SUFFERED.

THE RATES OF MARRIAGE IN

JAPAN HAS FALLEN DRAMATICSLY

OVE DRAMATICALLY OVER THE

PAST FEW YEARS AND DIVORCE

HAS RISEN.

Pat: 50 YEARS AGO,

EUROPE DOMINATED, AND IT

SLSHUNK, AND IS THAT THE

RESULT OF NOT HAVING

BABIES?

IT IS.

THEY'VE HAD LONG-STANDING

PLANS TO RAISE THEIR

FERTILITY RATE, AND THEY

HAVE SUCCEEDED A LITTLE, AND

WHAT HAS HELPED IS THE

MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF

IMMIGRATION FROM NORTHERN

AFRICA.

GERMANY IS ALREADYLIZING

ALREADY LOSING POPULATION.

THEY HAVE GONE FROM FIGURING

OUT HOW TO BUILD CITIES INTO

TURNING OUT HOW TO DOWN SIZE

THEIR CITIES, AND THEY NOW

STUDY HOW DO YOU TAKE OUT

CITY BLOCKS.

YOU HAVE PACKS OF WOLVES

RETURNING TO TOWNS IN EAST

GERMANY WHERE THEY HAVEN'T

BEEN IN 400 YEARS BECAUSE

THERE JUST ISN'T ENOUGH

PEOPLE AROUND TO GET TO STAY

OUT IN THE WOODS.

YOU CAN GENERALLY HAVE TWO

TYPES OF POLICIES.

YOU HAVE LIBERAL POLICIES,

LIKE IN FRANCE AND

SCANDINAVIA, WHICH SURROUND

STATE-RUN DAYCARE CENTERS TO

HELP MOTHERS WORK MORE.

AND YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE TAX

INCENTIVES, WHICH YOU SEE IN

SINGAPORE AND JAPAN.

AND THE TRUTH IS NEITHER OF

THEM HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY

EFFECTIVE.

IT IS REALLY HARD RAISING A

CHILD.

IT IS REALLY HARD HAVING A

FAMILY.

THESE LITTLE INCENTIVES AND

NUDGES AREN'T GOING TO DO

IT.

FORGET THE GOVERNMENT, YOU

HAVE TO WORK ON CHANGING THE

CULTURE.

CHANGE OUR ATTITUDES TOWARDS

FAMILIES AND HELP THEM

REALIZE FAMILIES ARE

IMPORTANT.

THEY'RE IMPORTANT NOUT AND

IN THE FUTURE.

Pat: WE FOUND OUT THAT

RELIGIOUS BELIEF PLAYS A BIG

PART IN THIS.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BELIEF IN

A FUTURE.

YOU DIDN'T ADDRESS THAT VERY

MUCH IN YOUR BOOK, DID YOU?

OR DID YOU?

I DO.

I TALK ABOUT IT IN THE BOOK

BECAUSE IT IS FASCINATING.

DEMOGRAPHERS HAVE STUDIED

RELIGIOUS BELIEF AND IT'S

EFFECT ON FERTILITY.

THE CATHOLICS HAD MORE

BABIES IN GENERAL THAN THE

PROTESTANTS DID, AND THE

PROTESTANTS HAD MORE BABIES

THAN THE JEWS DID.

BEGINNING IN THE 1950S AND

1960S, THOUGH SECTARIAN

DIFFERENCES BEGAN TO SLIP.

AND NOW WE SEE THERE IS

ALMOST NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN

THE RELIGIOUS SECT, BUT IN

THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE.

IT IS NOT WHAT YOU BELIEVE

BUT HOW OFTEN YOU GO TO

CHURCHES.

IF YOU GO EVERY MONTH, YOUR

FERTILITY RATE IS HIGHER.

THE PEOPLE WITH THE HIGHEST

FERTILITY RATE ARE THE

PEOPLE WHO GO TO CHURCH

SERVICES ONCE A WEEK.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT

RELIGION YOU ARE.

YOU CAN BE PROTESTANT,

CATHOLIC, JEW.

IF YOU SHOW UP AT CHURCH

EVERY WEEK, THAT'S WHAT IT

IS, BELIEVING IN SOMETHING

BIGGER THAN WE ARE RIGHT

HERE AND RIGHT NOW.

Pat: JONATHAN, THANK

YOU VERY MUCH.

HIS BOOK IS CALLED "WHAT TO

EXPECT WHEN NO ONE IS

EXPECTING."

IT IS VERY INTRIGUING.

I THINK YOU'LL FIND IT A

VERY GOOD READ.

YOU CAN GET IT WHERE BOOKS

ARE SOLD.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE

EVANGELICALS, I WANT TO TELL

YOU THERE IS HOPE.

YOU CAN OUTBREED THOSE

OTHERS WHO DON'T AGREE WITH

YOU.

THE MUSLIMS ARE CERTAINLY

DOING IT.

THEY HAVE, LIKE, SEVEN KIDS

PER FAMILY.

Terry: THAT'S TRUE.

A LOT OF THOSE COUNTRIES IN

EUROPE --

Pat: I DON'T THINK IT

HAS WORKED IN IRELAND.

IT IS AN INTRIGUING THING.

HE GOES DOWN THE LIST OF THE

COUNTRIES, WHAT THEY'VE DONE

AND WASN'T DOESN'T WORK, AND

HE POINTS TO SINGAPORE WHO

DELIBERATELY TRIED TO KILL

THE BIRTH RATE AND IT HAS

HAD A DEVASTATING EFFECT.

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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