Policy makers need to get ahead of this. Every school district in Wisconsin is just whistling in the dark pretending that this won’t impact them… or hoping they will be out of office when it does. The taxpayers will be left holding the bag, as usual.
One reason is that women are delaying motherhood.
Instead of starting a family in their early 20s, they are waiting longer. From 2007 to 2017, the median age of a mother having her first-born child rose from 24 to 26. And many are holding off starting a family until their 30s, according to the report. That segment of mothers has actually increased.
However, that rise in births is countered by a large drop in teen pregnancies and millennials leaving the state. The latter could signal long-term challenges for Wisconsin and other states if the trend continues.
The report states this could have significant consequences for economic growth and for the funding of major federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Since 2007, Wisconsin’s birth rate has declined 12 percent. That’s about average compared to other states, except for North Dakota and the District of Columbia which saw increases.
“There’s a chance Wisconsin could actually see a situation where deaths exceed births, which would be unprecedented in the state,” said the report’s author, Dale Knapp.
The state’s fertility, the rate at which women ages 15 to 44 give birth, went down in 2007 with the Great Recession. When unemployment is high, people generally put off having kids until job prospects improve.
The declining birth rate not only has ties to the economy but schools as well. Because state funding is generally tied to enrollment, declining enrollment can mean fewer resources.