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  The Herman Trend Alert

April 5, 2006

Career Security Influencing Birth Rate

When young men and women are more confident about their ability to support a family over a long period of time, they are more likely to marry and have children. When they do not have good jobs or perceive economic and other conditions to be uncertain, potential parents tend to delay having children until they feel more secure. Anecdotal evidence suggests that young people today are even delaying marriage until they feel more stable and secure in making long-term commitments.

As we project these indicators into trends, we forecast that the divorce rate will decline. If people wait until their prospects for the future are stronger, they will approach marriage with expectations of longer relationships. We anticipate that the value set of the Millennials will include expectations of higher commitment levels than experienced by the past two generations. Marrying later, decisions will be more mature and carefully conceived.

As with marriage, bringing children into the world will be influenced by perceptions of global conditions. With greater job security, self-sufficiency that comes from education and training, and a sense of well-being that comes from better nutrition and healthcare, we have indications that birthrates may rise in the years ahead. Thus, the creation of new jobs---and the stronger demand for workers who are educated and trained---will contribute to the stability of the whole society, while helping to alleviate the problem of the declining birthrate.

This reversal of the declining birthrates in other countries will mean that their next generation born will face many of the challenges previously faced by the Baby Boomers ---overcrowded schools, more competition for college slots and jobs, and probably longer waits for appointments with healthcare professionals. These trends could place serious strains on developing countries seeking to claim a place on the world stage.

If growing economies can keep up with this labor market expansion, the generation following the Millennials will be absorbed in the labor market without significantly affecting unemployment. A catastrophic natural disaster or other wildcard could cause rising levels of unemployment, as the market struggles to absorb the increasing numbers of workers.


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