ON-Lion Letter
Trends in marriage and fertility pose long-term risks to the financial and fiscal health of the world's wealthiest nations -- from China and Japan to Germany and the United States -- and are implicated in the recent global economic slowdown, according to an October report.

The Sustainable Demographic Dividend:  What Do Marriage & Fertility Have To Do With the Economy? was released by the Social Trends Institute.  Its U.S. sponsor is the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, which is supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The study contends that the long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family.  For instance, the report finds that men who get married and stay married work harder and earn more money than their unmarried peers.  In much of the developed world, including much of East Asia and Europe, social-welfare programs are straining to support surging dependent elderly populations, while productive working-age populations stagnate or shrink because fertility rates have fallen well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman -- the level needed to sustain the population
over time.

"This report suggests that demographic trends in marriage and fertility play an underappreciated and important role in fostering long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the health of large sectors of the modern economy," said W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project.

The report tracks global trends in fertility, marriage, divorce, cohabitation, single parenthood and child malnutrition, and includes new projections for U.S. birth rates in the wake of the current, ongoing recession.
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