Six years after the recession ended, the nation’s birthrate has begun to climb again.
For every 1,000 women of childbearing age last year, there were 62.9 births, up from 62.5 births in 2013, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is the first increase since 2007, when the recession began.
The nation’s total fertility rate — a statistical measure of how many children each woman is likely to have over her lifetime — also rose slightly, to 1.862 children, from 1.858.

This is still below the replacement rate of 2.1 children. What happens when we fall below the replacement rate needed to keep our population at least stable? “Higher fertility is positive for the economy because it means more workers in the future to propel growth and pay for the social benefits of the elderly. It also means more people to consume the nation’s goods and services,” the Journal said. Gosh, so if we are below 2.1 children we will face declining standards of living, problems supporting the elderly and in turn an exodus of younger people looking for opportunities elsewhere? That is right. That is Japan.

So what is to be done? The good news is that the improved economy is contributing to a baby boom of sorts. (Again, from the Journal: “While the uptick in fertility and birthrates is modest and could reverse, it appears the country’s improving economy is encouraging more couples to have children. The lingering financial toll of the recession prompted many young and less-educated Americans in particular to delay childbearing.”) And even better, teen birthrates are down, reducing one factor contributing to poverty. We could certainly promote pro-growth policies to kick-start the economy and make it more affordable to have children (through measures like the expanded child tax credit). And we could also encourage immigration, especially that of highly skilled and educated workers.

That’s right. All the anti-immigration Malthusians out there should perk up.  Let’s talk strictly about legal immigration. Opponents are right that immigration is tied to declining standards of living — but in exactly the opposite way they think. If we do not sustain our population and attract the best and the brightest to compete in the world we are in for rocky economic times and some serious demographic problems. The good news is that with immigration we get a triple benefit. Not only do immigrants add to the economy and tax revenues, but statistically they are younger on average, plus they have more children than native-born Americans. (The know-nothings like to mock Jeb Bush for saying so, but this is factually indisputable.)

I realize it is risky to introduce real facts into the immigration discussion but liberals and conservatives alike should at least start from the same set of facts. We need economic and population growth and without a functioning immigration system it is hard to see how we have either.