The latest issue of the Weekly Standard explores the ever-shrinking fertility rate in western countries, and asks if the one-child policy is the latest Chinese import sweeping America. The writer, Jonathan V. Last, chronicles the implementation of China’s policy, and the potential economic and social repercussions facing that nation as their fertility rate continues to plummet well below 2.1, the minimum needed to ensure any population growth. Last writes that societies will perish with decades of fertility rates below 2 (though he notes that this has never happened), and highlights the low rates in western nations; America, at 2.06, is third in the developed world, “only Israel (2.75) and New Zealand (2.10) are more fertile.”
Last makes some interesting observations as to why couples may be choosing to have smaller families, and ultimately cites increased education and career opportunities for women as a primary factor, as well as the extraordinarily high cost of raising a child and the ubiquity of contraception. America's growth rate is above 2 because of the influx of immigrants to the country, so among what Last terms "native" individuals, the United States is no different than any other western nation (below the replacement rate). What will this mean come 2050? No one is certain, but Last presents some interesting scenarios (childless women using strollers to push around their puppies or kittens or massive government programs to encourage the creation of more children).