June 11, 2018
As the late Paul Harvey put it, today’s news of most lasting significance may be this:
The U.S. fertility rate hit a record low in 2017, with 60.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age; the average American woman now has 1.7 children, well below the “replacement” fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman.
The situation is even more dire in Vermont. After averaging about 9,000 births annually through the 1950s and 1960s, Vermont mothers had 5,734 babies in 2016 (by way of comparison, in 2015 there were 5,903 babies born in Vermont; in 2010, the number was 6,200; in 2000 it was 6,500). That figure doesn’t look to improve any time soon: over the next 15 years, the number of women in their prime childbearing years (ages 20 to 40) will fall by about 10 percent, while the number of people in Vermont over the age of 65 will increase by 50 percent.
In seven of Vermont’s 12 counties, there have been more deaths than births for six years running.
As a long-time school board member — and as someone who cares about Vermont’s economy and quality of life — these trends are troubling. They can be remedied, though.
How about opening the doors of this great country to immigrants from all over the world who are eager to come here?