Way down in his weekly roundup column, Ted Nesi highlights another point from the recent RI Kids Count report:
One statistic that stood out: Rhode Island now has the fifth-lowest birth rate in the country, following a 15% slide in the number of babies born here over the last decade. What does that mean for the state’s future? It’s already having an effect on the economy, with Care New England saying the decline in births is hurting revenue at Women & Infants.
That’s an understated example of the effect of this dynamic. Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the effects of an increasingly sterile population.
To touch on one narrow political matter: As I’ve pointed out in Tiverton and for the state as a whole, our public schools have generally lost about two full grade-levels worth of students in the last decade. Picture no fourth and no fifth grade students in the entire state; that’s how much enrollment has decreased. This leaves a bureaucratic, unionized, and expensive education establishment demanding increased budgets to educate fewer children, which its partisans do against a taxpaying public that has less and less actual use of the schools. That battle alone will be huge in Rhode Island.
But even an issue of that magnitude is as nothing to the reorientation of a society with fewer children. The way people think and interact with the world will change on that basis. Indeed, not having children (or not having multiple children) takes pressure off of people to become full adults, making them more susceptible to the pitch of the “government plantation” advocates to look to central planners as parents to us all. It also makes us vulnerable to people from other cultures in which Peter Pan has been held at bay.