The US birth rate is at an all-time low. But maybe that's a good thing.

The National Centers for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this week that shows the fertility rate and number of births in American are continuing to decline. Fertility has dropped to an unprecedented low and the birth rate has plummeted to its lowest point in over three decades.

There were 1,728 births per 1,000 women, signifying a two percent decrease from 2017 and a record low for the nation. The report points out that the low fertility rate is below the level needed for the population to replace itself, 2,100 per 1,000 women, a trend that has been continuing since 1971.


However, there is an interesting, less negative-sounding statistic hidden in this report. While the birth rate continues to decline for almost every age group of women under 35, it has actually increased for women in their late 30s and early 40s.

So it’s not a total birth decline across the board. And some of the decline is actually a good thing.

For example, Brady Hamilton, lead author of the new report, told Time that a 7% decline in teen pregnancies is “welcome news” for public health, as most of these pregnancies are “mistimed” or “unwanted.” It also insinuates that more teens are using contraception.

Teen pregnancies are also proven to have a negative impact on the national economy. Teenage parents are less likely to graduate from high school or college and often enter the child welfare system, relying on taxpayers for medical and economic support.

What’s more, Hamilton says the report is only a snapshot in time — in this case, the year 2018 — and may not represent “births foregone." It’s simply births that have been postponed. He points out that “women generally do have, in the end, two children”— they might just be doing it later in life.

So people aren’t rushing to become parents, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Parents who welcome children later in life are more likely to be financially stable and children are more likely to thrive.

That said, if the overall population is truly slipping, Social Security and Medicaid could be threatened.

The idea behind these social program is that the working population pays into the fund with income taxes in order to support the aging population who once fulfilled the same duty. The mechanism only works if the fund continues to be fully replenished by each generation.

Experts are concerned that a staggering population will put a financial strain on the programs because there will be less tax-paying individuals to support the aging populations.

“All past projections of the proportion of the U.S. population that will be elderly, and eligible for Medicare and Social Security, have assumed that the previous higher birth rates remained constant,” John Rowe, Julius B. Richmond Professor of health policy and aging health policy and management, explained to FOX Business. “As rates have fallen, and fewer young people ultimately enter the labor force and pay into the Social Security and Medicare Trust funds, the solvency of these funds is threatened.”

It could also threaten the job market.

In recent years, the United States economy and job market have experienced much-needed growth, but the declining birth rate could signify a turnaround as demographers point out there will be fewer young people joining the working population.

Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, called the situation a “national problem.”

He explains that initially, experts believed the falling birthrate was due to the recession, but now think it has more to do with the fact that young people aren’t optimistic about the future. "Not a whole lot of things are going good," he says, "and that's haunting young people in particular, more than old people."

Clearly there are many uncertainties when it comes to population growth and its impact on social programs, the job market and the economy overall. The silver lining is that if parents are being more mindful about how and when they have children, they will likely be better parents. And that alone could ultimately have a positive impact on future generations in every aspect.

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.