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Cohen contests birthrate decline thesis

Challenges are real but manageable; better to focus on the well being of those who are here.

Lower birth rates and longer life spans have led many scholars to make dire predictions about a future in which the up-and-coming American workforce can no longer support an expanding population of retirees.  Faculty Associate Philip Cohen argued in a recent article on that these fears are unwarranted.

“Childlessness, small families, and even the possibility of population decline in the distant future do pose potential problems to US society, but the challenges aren’t insurmountable,” Dr. Cohen writes. Although the US birth rate is dropping, the fertility rate remains high, especially compared with other high-income countries. In fact, the Census Bureau expects the US population to grow by another 26-33 percent by 2060. Dr. Cohen recognizes that the aging of the US population does present a challenge, but he points out that immigrants can provide a ready supply of additional workers if a larger workforce is needed in order to pay for pensions and Social Security benefits.

Cohen argues that education and healthcare represent more important areas of focus for policymakers. “We would do better if we focused our attention on the well-being of however many of us there are instead of worrying about the fact that there might not be enough of us in the future,” he writes.

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