Study: Modern Economies 'Rise and Fall' with Nuclear Families

Cheryl Wetzstein | The Washington Times | October 3, 2011

If the wealth of a nation is tied to both the quality and the quantity of its people, then modern trends toward cohabiting instead of marrying, easy divorce and fewer children born to couples will have sweeping economic consequences, a new report says. The “long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family,” the Social Trends Institute says in its new report, “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do With the Economy?”

This is because economic growth, viability of welfare programs, size and quality of a workforce, and profitability of large sectors of an economy - health care and food, for instance - are intertwined with the family decisions of the populace, says the report, which is co-sponsored by six international institutions and the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

Countries should strive for “sustainable fertility” of at least two children per woman or a total fertility rate of 2.1, the report says. Among developed countries, it adds, the U.S. is an “outlier” with its relatively stable 2.0 fertility rate. Elsewhere, “the average woman in a developed country now bears just 1.66 children,” New America Foundation scholar Phillip Longman writes in the report...