A report by Forward Analytics, a division of the Wisconsin County’s Association, has predicted that the Wisconsin population will begin to decline by 2026. The report attributes this to three factors: a decrease in teen pregnancy, delay in childbirth and an inability to keep young people in the state.
A shrinking population poses a danger to the Wisconsin economy and the welfare of everyone in the state. Wisconsin must do its best to turn this situation around.
When young people leave to go to college or start careers elsewhere, they take with them the kids they might’ve had and leave behind their older family members. This makes the population older and the workforce smaller, simultaneously increasing the amount of money the government must pay in Social Security and Medicare, while reducing the amount of money raised in tax dollars.
For 2019, Wisconsin has budgeted more than $6 billion for the UW system, and nearly $13 billion for Medicaid and other health services. The budgets for both UW and health services are projected to grow as UW enrolls more students and as the population grows older.
Experts say gentrification in Madison area due to rapid increase in millennial populationOver the past few years, the city of Madison’s millennial population has been growing dramatically. According to The Isthmus, out Read…
A shrinking and aging population is going to raise the costs of our public services while making it harder to raise money to fund public services. Public services and subsidies will be scaled back — possibly meaning a rise in-state tuition rates — or taxes will be increased. All of these outcomes will drive young people away from Wisconsin, starting the cycle all over again.
To stop this from happening, Wisconsin has to reverse the causes of the declining population.
Obviously, promoting teen pregnancy is the absolute worst way to do this. Teen mothers and their children are more likely to do poorly in school and live in poverty. Since 2007, teen pregnancies have been cut in half, and the policies that achieved this should be kept in place.
The delay in childbirth is due to an entire generation suffering financial trouble. People settle down and have kids later, since finding that first stable job and buying that first house is not as easy as it once was. This is principally due to ballooning student debt. The problems causing that are a nationwide issue, and for this problem to be fixed a national effort would have to be made.
Our state should be focusing on two things: retaining its current population of young people, and encouraging more to move to Wisconsin. The UW system is key in achieving this goal. People are more likely to stay in the state where they go to college, and UW attracts students from across the nation. More investment in UW now would help prevent this decline in population and all the bad that would come with it.
Drawing young people to Wisconsin will make this state a magnet for investment — a state with more people has more ideas, more productivity and is a place where firms can hope for growth. In fact, Dale Knapp, director of Forward Analytics said, “Immigration has to be a part of the solution.”
Immigration can be a divisive issue, and this is not for a good reason. After all, would you rather have a state comprised of immigrants and natives, that has the money to fund good schools, colleges and social insurance for the old and sick — or a state with high taxes, failing institutions and not enough money to care for people who need it?
Harry Quick ([email protected]) is a freshman studying economics.