By Monte Sahlin
For six years in a row the number of births in the United States has declined. In 2013 there were 3.93 million babies born following 3.95 in 2012. Since a high point in 2007 the number of babies born in America each year has declined by seven percent.
One conclusion is that possibly the generation following the Millennial Generation should be marked as beginning in 2008. Generations are generally considered to be bordered by demographic events, not cultural or other events. So far, there is no consensus of what to call this new generation and no widely accepted idea of what years to include. It is possible that the consensus among demographers will wait until the current down trend in births bottoms out, as they did with Generation X (or Baby Bust Generation as it is known by demographers).
This means the Post-Millennial Generation could be seen as the babies born from 1995 through 2007, a period of 12 years. This is a short time frame for a generation, which means that likely the consensus will wait until the current down turn in births bottoms out. But, maybe not simply because that could be a long time; too long to contain in one generation. If so, that would mean that the Post-Millennial Generation will be the last big generation in America for a long time.
The birth rate is down not because of a low population, but because women are simply having fewer babies. Or fewer women are having babies. The average number of babies born to women between 15 and 44 years of age dropped to a record low in 2013 at 1.86 babies. This is similar to the highest rates in Europe where some countries (like German and Spain) have much lower rates.
The "replacement rate" necessary to maintain the population level is an average of 2.1 babies per woman during her "child-bearing years" (defined statistically as above). Because America is now significantly below that rate, immigration becomes very important in order to maintain the population at the current level. This is important because many mechanisms in society (such as an adequate supply of nurses and doctors, a balance of working and retired people, etc.) depend on a relatively stable population.
What does this mean for the church?
Immigration is a positive factor for church growth, but it makes the church membership more diverse than the general population. A clear Bible-based doctrine of diversity therefore becomes important because members have to be taught that their natural prejudice against a multicultural Body of Christ is wrong in God's eyes.